Contemporary published January 6, 2015
The Story Plant
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Synopsis from Goodreads:
They met at the worst possible moment...or maybe it was just in time. David McClain was about to go to war and Lindsey Wood was there at his going-away party, capturing his heart when falling for a woman was the last thing on his mind. While David was serving his country, he stayed in close contact with Lindsey. But war changes a person, and when he came home very little had the same meaning that it had before – including the romance that had sustained him. Was love truly unconquerable, or would it prove to be just another battlefield casualty?Gooseberry Island is the most nuanced, dramatic, and romantic novel yet from a writer whose ability to plumb the depths of human emotion knows few peers.
I think up to this point I have read all of Steven Manchester's books from Twelve Months on and I have enjoyed each and every one of them. I know that I can sit down with one and read it in a couple of hours and I know that it's going to be emotional. This book was no exception, though I will say it wasn't my favorite of Steven's work. I think that maybe it's just because I didn't quite connect with the characters in this particular story the way I have with some of the other books. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the story, though. This story is largely about PTSD and the ramifications of dealing with life "after the fact", if you will. I guess this just isn't a subject I know a lot about so it was hard for me to connect with that part of it.
David is an Army Ranger who meets Lindsay the day before he ships out to Afghanistan for a year long tour. It's an insta-love scenario, where they both kind of know that they want to try the long distance thing even though they don't really know each other. They stay in pretty close contact over the year that David is gone. David is optimistic at first, but things happen to him in Afghanistan that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Back home in the States, Lindsay is dealing with her father who is a soldier fighting his own battle with PTSD and having a rough time of it. She never confides this to David though, not until much later in their relationship.
More than half the book deals with David's return and all the things that follow him back from overseas. He's not the same person he was when he left and he has a lot of issues to work through before he can be the same man that fell in love with Lindsay.
There were so many things is this book that frustrated me. I just wanted to smack David and tell him to talk to her about what was going on. I wanted Lindsay to tell him about her father so he would know that it's something she could handle. This is where I felt the disconnection with the characters and I know that this comes from not really having any way to quantify PTSD personally. I have no personal experience with it so it's hard to identify with the actions of a person who has. I know that there are a lot of people out there who will identify with this book and I think that Steven did a great job writing about this particular subject. It was a very emotional story and if you enjoy Mr. Manchester's work then this book will be no exception.
*Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*