Monday, June 26, 2017

Book Review and Giveaway: The Right Side

By Jami Deise

Women’s fiction is filled with heartwarming tales of women who love dogs and the dogs that improve their lives. These uplifting tales showcase hounds who find their owners love, who heal their owners’ broken hearts, and who help their owners renovate homes. It’s light fiction for those who sport “Who Rescued Who?” bumper stickers on the back of their Subarus.

The Right Side is not one of those books.

For starters, author Spencer Quinn has created a heroine – LeeAnne Hogan – who is so tough, she is almost unbelievable. Recovering in Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital after an attack in Afghanistan leaves her scarred and missing her right eye, LeeAnne pushes away everyone who tries to help her. From flashbacks to her life before the army, it’s obvious that this bravado isn’t an act. LeeAnne is not the warm, emotional type who usually stars in women’s fiction. I was not surprised to learn the author is male.

LeeAnne bonds somewhat with her roommate, Marci, whose leg was blown off by an IED and who worries about the eight-year-old daughter she left behind. After Marci dies suddenly in the middle of the night from a blood clot, LeeAnne takes off, driving aimlessly around the country while she avoids her mother, her commanding officer, and her psychiatrist.

Because of this structure, the first part of the book seems aimless as well. LeeAnne leaves without a destination, and most of the book deals with LeeAnne’s memories of growing up and of serving in Afghanistan. While author Quinn has created an in-depth, realistic portrait of a woman with PTSD (so realistic it seems that everyone who served in a combat zone should have it), without a destination for LeeAnne, the reader doesn’t know what to expect.

Secondly, the aforementioned dog doesn’t show up till the halfway mark. And LeeAnne, unlike the protagonists in most dog-lover fiction, isn’t immediately enthralled. In fact, there are times when she’s downright cruel, which is understandable for a woman with PTSD, but may leave some readers upset at certain scenes.

Because the Amazon write-up notes that LeeAnne becomes involved in the search for Marci’s missing daughter, I’ll mention it here, although it violates my usual rule about spoilers, which is not to talk about anything that happens after the book’s halfway mark. With the missing daughter, the book becomes more of a mystery. Similarly, the real story behind LeeAnne’s injury is questioned.

The Right Side is longer than it needs to be, with much of the padding in the first half of the book. Once LeeAnne becomes involved in the search for Marci’s daughter, things start to happen at a fast pace. Still, the book is neither truly women’s fiction nor a mystery. “Military fiction” does not currently seem to be a genre of its own, but it should be, and that’s how I’d describe The Right Side. Military service—the people who are attracted to it, the people who are forever changed by it—is the spine that connects our country from the Revolutionary War to today, and these stories are specific and meaningful. With fewer and fewer American families having a member who serves, military fiction like The Right Side plays an important role in making sure these stories are told.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the book in exchange for an honest review. They are having a tour-wide giveaway ending on July 16th. Visit the other participating blogs.


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14 comments:

Cori said...

It is interesting this book is hard to place in a specific category/genre. I'm intrigued!

Janine said...

Thanks for the chance to win. I really like animals in books.

Melanie Backus said...

I am intrigued by this book. Thank you for the opportunity.

Laurice McClung said...

This sounds really good!

Dianne Casey said...

Enjoyed the description of the book. Like dogs featured in books, it adds a nice touch to the story.

Jodi Marinch said...

i love the premise of this book

Jenna said...

Seems realistic.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a few intriguing plot lines are interwoven throughout this book.

Tatum Rangel said...

This one sounds amazing. :)

rubynreba said...

I am looking forward to reading this book!

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book for the tour.

anna russell said...

I can't wait to read!

Nancy said...

This looks like a book I'd enjoy reading.

Nancy
allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

Margie said...

Sounds intriguing. Thanks for the giveaway.