Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Invisible Front: Love And Loss In An Era Of Endless War

Mark Graham was a career soldier. He served in the United States Army for more than twenty years. He had two sons and one daughter. His younger son committed suicide while in the ROTC in college. His older son died in the war in Iraq. One considered a weakling. The other considered a hero. This book is about the Grahams’ efforts to change the way the military and the public view suicide among service members.

I honestly cannot comprehend losing any of my children. Let alone two of them. That is exactly what happened to them. Their younger son was depressed. He was so worried about the military and ROTC finding out that he was taking Prozac for depression that he quit taking the medication. He never told anyone how he was feeling. Then it was too late.

I know the stigma that this society attaches to psychiatric disorders. In the military, it is ten times worse. Any expression of emotion is considered by many soldiers and commanders as showing signs of weakness. Until that attitude changes, the enormous suicide rate among service members will continue to grow at rates much, much faster than the general population. The Grahams are working from the inside out to change the military’s perception of PTSD and suicide.

This was a hard book to read. Mostly because it covers such an enormous loss. But it is also a book that give your hope. The Grahams are extraordinarily strong and resilient. They have faced this devastation with a determination to fight and change the system that helped cause it. It is a book that everyone should read as we tend to ignore those around us who have given a little less than the ultimate sacrifice during war, but end up doing so later.

I received this book from Blogging for Books. I received no compensation for the views that are expressed herein. The views expressed herein are my own.

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Everything I Never Told You

I just finished Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. It has been getting incredible reviews and I had shied away from it, but bought it not too long ago. I read it in a day. And my reaction is – wow. It was an amazing book.

The book is set in small college town 1970s Ohio. Lydia Lee is dead. We know that pretty much from the beginning. She is half Chinese and half white. He father is a Chinese-American college professor and her mother is a Barnard student who married her father after briefly being his student. Her mother wanted to go to medical school and become a doctor but she gave that up when she got pregnant and got married. The father is offered a position as a professor in Ohio and they move there. They end up with three kids. Nathan, Lydia and Hannah. Lydia is the parents’ favorite and they make no effort to hide it.

I don’t want to say much about the plot because there are things that happen that are best left to the reader. I will say that it’s a look at a complicated family with a complicated story. Things are not as they seem for almost everyone. The book explores may themes. Perception, stereotypes, birth order, sexuality, depression, appearances. Ms. Ng deftly wades into this territory and provides an intimate look at a family trying to find its way after the anchor is cut loose. In many ways the family revolved around Lydia and when she dies, they become unmoored – from each other, from their community, from their lives. The biggest question to be answered in this story is whether the family can be put back together.

I loved this book. I loved the language, the description. I loved how she was able to capture each person’s emotions and to make each member of the family a distinct character with a distinct voice. The book was moving and emotional, but not sappy. One of the best books I have read in a long time. I highly recommend it.

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