Today’s team review is from Terry.
She blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.com/
Terry has been reading Fortunate Son by Thomas Tibor.
Reed Lawson has a lot on his plate – he’s juggling college and membership of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), and his much revered father has been MIA in Vietnam for three years. Then there are the droves of anti-war demonstrating hippies on campus, calling people like himself and his father ‘warmongers’.
When circumstances lead him to volunteer at a community project giving help to people with drug and emotional problems, he falls for Jordan, a strident feminist and peacenik. His life also becomes entangled with a younger girl with serious emotional and family problems.
I enjoyed reading this; the storytelling itself is fine, the characters are clear and three-dimensional, and the author certainly knows how to write convincing, appropriate dialogue, a talent I believe is innate – I didn’t wince once, which says to me that the knack probably comes naturally to him. Reed’s conflicting emotions about his father, and his reaction to discoveries about his parents, were extremely well written. Also, there were a few excellent passages about the time and feel of the era:
‘The interstate had opened a few years ago. Motels, fast food joints and gas stations mushroomed at each exit, sprouting garish oases in the rural countryside. His mother hated the trend, predicting the country’s regional charms would be bulldozed in a few decades to make way for chain stories and restaurants that peddled the same brand of blandness in every state.’
‘He felt a kinship with all who’d travelled before him on thousands of miles of highway, which had replaced dirt roads, which covered trails hacked from raw wilderness. Generations of restless Americans, forever on the move. Pushing west, pushing south, yearning to go anywhere that promised to be better than where they came from.’
Although it’s a good book and I liked it, I thought it could have been cut down by about ten per cent to make it tighter; it’s quite long, and a fairly slow unfolding. Also, the reminder of the era’s culture was a little over the top – the frequent indication of what song was playing on the radio or floating out of a student’s window, the way everyone’s conversation revolved around drugs, Vietnam, feminism and their own existential crisis, constantly. It became a little repetitive after a while.
Having said that, I would most definitely recommend it as a solid human interest novel and a good story, particularly if you remember or have an interest in the era.
Fortunate Son is a coming-of-age story set on a southern college campus during the turbulent spring of 1970. Reed Lawson, an ROTC cadet, struggles with the absence of his father, a Navy pilot who has been Missing in Action in Vietnam for three years. While volunteering at a drug crisis center, Reed sets out to win the heart of a feminist co-worker who is grappling with a painful past and to rescue a troubled teenage girl from self-destruction. In the process, he is forced to confront trauma’s tragic consequences and the fragile, tangled web of human connections.