Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.
Since I got my copy of The Road Home from Angie herself, I thought it would be appropriate to do a Retro Friday post about it. Angie is a huge fan of Ellen Emerson White and it’s because of her and Michelle that I picked up the President’s Daughter series. I’m not done with that series but I decided to read this one because I couldn’t wait to find out the goodness inside.
Here’s the summary from Ellen Emerson White’s website:
Lieutenant Rebecca Phillips went to Vietnam as a nurse, to heal and give comfort, and maybe to find answers. The war had torn her family apart and she wanted to know why. But there were no answers for her in Vietnam – only more questions.
When Rebecca returns to the U.S., her war still isn’t over. For only when she’s home is she able to confront the horrific realities she experienced during her tour of duty. To piece her life back together, Rebecca travels across the country in search of hope, of forgiveness… of the way home.
I don’t usually go for books set during war-time. More so for this one because it’s about the Vietnam war, a time in history which I know nothing about. However, if a book comes highly recommended by someone I trust, I can’t help but give it a try. Plus, Angie sent a copy already so the least I could do was read the book, right? 🙂 The Road Home has two sections: the first part deals with Rebecca working as a nurse in Vietnam and the second part is about her coming back home to the States. I thought The Road Home was a standalone novel but looking at Ellen Emerson White’s website, it looks like she wrote a series called The Echo Company which focuses on a certain soldier’s experiences in Vietnam and Rebecca comes into the picture in the latter books. This is probably why when I was reading The Road Home, I felt like I came into the middle of the series.
As the story starts, Rebecca is working in an American hospital in Vietnam. She’s a Radcliffe-educated nurse straight out of college and she signed up mainly because of issues with her family. It sort of felt like things already happened to Rebecca and the book is dealing with the aftereffects of those events but I didn’t really mind. Rebecca’s helicopter was shot down in the jungle and she was MIA for a couple of days until she meets a squad of American soldiers and one of them, Michael, becomes a close friend. Based on hints throughout the novel, Rebecca used to be a cheerful and lively girl and everything changed when she was lost in the jungle. Mostly she runs on autopilot as she tries to save lives when she doesn’t even understand the point of it all. During her remaining time in Vietnam, we see her struggle to connect with other people: the Chief Nurse Major Doyle, Michael and even her mother and father through letters.
The Road Home is more than just Rebecca’s story of coming back from Vietnam. It’s about coming to terms with everything that she encountered while she was there and trying to understand how she’s going to go on living when so many people died. Rebecca lost touch with herself when she went off to join the Army and this novel is about her finding herself again. The characters are believable and real – from their experiences during the war to how lost they were after they came back. It’s an understatement that it’s difficult to overcome the horrors of war. Your heart will break several times over while you’re reading this one but I think it’s worth reading. The last few chapters are my favorite part of the novel, when Rebecca decides to go on a road trip. Plus the ending? *sigh* It’s perfect for the story. So again, I thank Angie for encouraging me to read a book that I normally wouldn’t have picked up. I never thought I’d find comfort in a novel about war. I’m baffled that the book is out of print because it deserves to be read by more people.