Review: The Road Home by Ellen Emerson White

The Road Home
by Ellen Emerson White
Rating: *****
Read 8/20/2013

8/2013 I had to come back to this and re-read it after reading the four Zack Emerson Echo Company books. I love it more, now that I’ve read them. I’m flummoxed as to why it’s not packaged as part of the Echo Company series, and have been engaged in some fairly robust debates as to whether it truly IS part of the series. When I read it first, I thought it could stand alone. Now that I’ve read the Echo Company books, I think it’s much more satisfying, more complete. The backstory is there, and things which are alluded to in this book are whole and have depth and breadth and, well, mass.

A phenomenal series with a spectacular cap, that’s how I’m thinking of them.

7/2013 I was a little girl when we finally got out of Vietnam. I remember going outside and banging pots and pans together, my mother crying. And so many people I loved just missed being there, through luck. My starter husband had a really high number. My uncle went to Germany. My dad got out just in time. My true love kept Cape Cod safe. And there are people I love who didn’t just miss being there. People who still flinch when a Chinook flies over. People who just don’t talk about it.

So. This book, which starts in country and stays tightly focused on the war throughout, was tremendously affecting for me. It’s also very well-written. The characters are so, so real, and one roots hard for them to be okay. So hard, in fact, that one finds one’s self up all night, holding the book in a death grip, reading in a tiny pool of light. Well, maybe that’s only me. I didn’t get much more than 3 chapters in before I ordered the first 4 Echo Company books through Inter-Library Loan.

By turns brutal and tender and introspective and broken. Incredibly well-done.

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: One Saint and Seven Sinners by Ennen Reaves Hall

One Saint and Seven Sinners
by Ennen Reaves Hall
Rating: ****
Read 6/8/2013
I picked this up at a rummage sale based on the author’s photograph, the jacket flaps and the fact that it was published by T.Y. Crowell, who rarely lets me down. I’m so glad I did, this was a delightful book. Hall’s dad was a preacher, an old school Baptist, and though she says that this is his story it’s much more the story of her indomitable little mother, who was a treat to get to know in these pages. Watching Mrs. Reaves face down the Ladies Aid Society is priceless. If you can find this, by all means, pick it up.

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.