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Saturday, March 25, 2023

When You Come Home: A Book Review

By Gary Joseph             

CSMS Magazine Staff Writer 

Since Desert Storm, the US first Gulf War, many books and in-depth analyses have written about the ordeals and the nightmarish states of many young war veterans returning home to face new realities of the day-to-day life in America, a life that sometimes proves to be sober at best and hellish at worse.

            When you come home is both a compassionate and political novel, depicting the story of Anthony Bravo, a dauntless marine reservist who returns home from the first Gulf War to face unforeseen realities that even his fearlessness in the fearsome and dreadful streets of Iraq could not overcome. When he gets home, Lily Engels, an orphan that was raised in his home, quickly embraces him. At first, Tony is happy that the war is behind him, but the memories of what happened in the war still plague him, at times returning with a vengeance to his devastating mind.

 On top of that, Anthony’s war friends also suffer from Gulf War illness, resulting from a variety of sicknesses that attack every viral part of one’s body. Tony tries to wrestle with these new struggles at home. The word “struggle” here is highly emphasized. He is having trouble grasping the fact that just a few months earlier he was fighting on the battlefields in Iraq. Now back at home, he finds himself in another battlefield with his friends and loved ones dying right before his eyes.                                                

The book is written by Nora Eisenberg. Nora uses descriptive details about how Anthony has his flashbacks from the war. Eisenberg gives the reader a direct point of view form the protagonist eyes in the book. It is as if you were in inside the psyche of Anthony. You can tell that Anthony before the war and Anthony after the war are two completely different characters. Once Anthony comes home, he becomes extremely paranoid, anxious, and highly nervous. On top of that his friends are all dying from this new Gulf war Illness. All this stress is causing drift in his relationship with Lily, his girlfriend.

            This book shows you a great example of a paradoxical lifestyle. Even though America “won” the war, many war veterans—young in their thirties—are still trapped with the thoughts and graphic pictures of bloodily bodies and guns firing in their minds just as much as the people who “lost” the war. That is exactly what Anthony represents—this paradoxical lifestyle that Gulf War veterans live with, this sense of hopelessness that never seems to go away.

            This book is great in every detail. It has drama, suspense, and even happiness throughout all the drama. I will suggest it to anyone that is looking for to enlighten his mind over the ponderous issues of war veterans in America: their plight, their endless vicissitudes that very few people seem to care about, apart for their close relatives. This book is a good read, one you could just sit down and read for hours on end.  

            Nora Eisenberg is the author of two previous novels. Her novelistic proses have been well received by critiques across the board. She holds a Ph.D. from Colombia University in English and Comparative Literature. She also teaches at City University of New York.

Also see Wayne Karlin is back in Marble Mountain: a book review 

My Daughter’s Eyes: An interesting book to read`

Heaven of Drums: A book that brings to light African presence in Argentina’s history

Jimmy Carter is under fire 

Closed For Repairs: a book that offers a glimpse of life in urban Cuba

Note: The book was published by Connecticut based Curbstone Press. It is available almost everywhere, especially in all online bookstores. One can also visit the publisher’s website: www.curbstone.org for more info.

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