Review: The Echo Company books by Zack Emerson

Welcome to Vietnam
by Zack Emerson (Ellen Emerson White)
Rating: ****
Read 8/13/2013

Oof. Vietnam. So many things in MY head, reading this. The boys, of course, the boys are the ages of my own boys, more or less. Some of ‘em younger, even. And of course I can’t help putting them in this scenario and then I get the shakes. Also, so many of my grown friends, old men now, were there, were these very boys. There’s vertigo. And then there’s Story. And Ellen Emerson White is a storyteller for sure. Even when she’s pretending to be Zack Emerson, writing for boys.

Hill 568
by Zack Emerson (Ellen Emerson White)
Read 8/15/2013

This book brings home what the war in Vietnam must have felt like, smelled like. How terrifying it was, and how the kids fighting it were exactly that, kids. Michael, who I first met in the fifth book of this series, makes a lot more sense to me now. And oh, how I love Snoopy.

Mostly, it’s giving me a horrifying window into the war that loomed large over my childhood.

‘Tis The Season
by Zack Emerson (Ellen Emerson White)
Read 8/17/2013

This is Rebecca’s backstory, what you miss in The Road Home. Solid characters in an untenable situation, doing the best they can. So achingly true, so well written. I need to have this whole series of books. They surely do pass the 3 a.m. test.

Rebecca is such a wonderful person, complicated and fierce and devoted and broken. I think there needs to be a sixth book. And maybe a seventh.

Stand Down
by Zack Emerson (Ellen Emerson White)
Read 8/19/2013

This series is phenomenal. Why did it ever go out of print? The fourth installment was every bit as good as the first three, and I grew more enamored of Rebecca. I didn’t think that was even possible. And the guys, oh, how I love the guys. I had to get the fifth book again to re-read, now that I know them all better.

There’s more grim detail here about the everyday business of war in the jungle. And it’s so realistic that there are times I could actually smell it. The guys, doing their heartbreaking best, fighting a war they don’t understand under conditions that can only be called intolerable. Yet they tolerate them, and even find some beauty, some humor.

Georgy Girl! And the shout-out to Sue Barton, Student Nurse made me tear up.

Read these. In order. Because those people who told me I could just read the last one and then decide if I wanted to go back and read the first four? Those people, while technically correct, are wrong.

Review: Columbia River Gorge by Marty Sherman

Columbia River Gorge
by Marty Sherman
Rating ***
Read 7/30/2013

This is a heartbreaking look at what the Columbia River Gorge used to be. Rife with editing errors that don’t matter a bit, compared with the photographs of what used to be. For me, the most telling caption (on an overhead photo of the Bonneville Dam) “The stuff that nations are made of- development and progress. It invariably means the death of a river.”

Lots of photos of Celilo Falls that was, pictures of the mighty Columbia when she was mighty indeed.

Probably of interest to historians and Oregonians only.

Review: Whirligig House by Anna Rose Wright



Whirligig House

by Anna Rose Wright

Rating: ****


Read: 4/6/2013


There are no more Melendy books to discover, and no more jolly Eager siblings yet to meet. I feel lucky that I found the Yates clan at this late date. Thank goodness for pictorial covers and old comfortable library bindings. I saw this one across the room, and though it was totally unfamiliar to me, it promised to be one of those comfortable, chatty books. The cover told truth. There’s the barest of bare-bones plots, and a wealth of splendid anecdotes. There are delightful illustrations throughout, and all the Usual Suspects for these kinds of books: absent but well-loved parents, irascible and unrelated hired hand whose heart of marshmallow is apparent from the first, cranky old Pecksniffian relative, reclusive neighbor, harum-scarum friends, secret clubs, newsletters, boats and of course a baby alligator.  This was an unmitigated delight.