A review by Shellie for: In the Wake of the Boatman ~ by Jonathon Scott Fuqua
Set around the Vietnam war, this is a dark and heart wrenching story of identity with an atypical hero as the main character.
About: This is a story about a boy who awkwardly grows into a damaged man, in part due to his experiences of emotional abuse at the hands of his father. Putnam, the main character, endures extreme swings in his father’s attentions; in his attempts to please his difficult father, “Put” does a number of things which cause a descent into self doubt and confusion, furthering his personal misunderstandings about himself.
As he becomes a young man and in an attempt to bury his feelings, he takes steps into a lifestyle where he believes his proclivities will be repressed or changed. Choosing the military and officer training, he throws himself into his studies and intense physical training. Yet that does not stop the temptations he is trying to mask. He takes this attempt at repression one step further, and in his depressive state volunteers for a tour to Vietnam – a mission of apparent suicide. The story has been set and this is the beginning of a number of heroic actions.
Thoughts: In this heartbreaking yet redemptive literary novel, there is an underlying question as to whether a person who is “confused” or who has a sexual identity which is not entirely accepted socially is less capable of defending his or her country. As a reader I could feel deeply for what was going on internally and externally for Putnam, as he tries to reconcile who he is and what social expectations are for him as a soldier and a man. Even more, the book asks - what is it that actually defines a person as a hero? This novel is GLBTQ, and serves to show that even individuals who do not fit into our “ideal” of what a hero is, can be committed to their country and can be just as heroic as those who do. I give this powerful and emotional novel 4 stars.
For further information on this book please see Layers of Thoughts preview for the book.
This book will be included in a variety of challenges – GLBT 2010, Feel My Sorrow, War Through the Generations – Vietnam, New Authors Challenge.
Thanks for reading!