Cara Hoffman tells a fascinating story of a soldier returning home from Iraq. The protagonist, Lauren Clay, has been caring for her young brother since she was 10 years old when their mother left and their father became deeply depressed and quit functioning. She joined the army after high school to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.
Lauren is a disturbed young woman dealing with guilt and more, from incidents in Iraq. She has difficulty understanding why people don’t listen to what she says. As a sergeant in the army she is accustomed to people following her orders. Although she has an exceptional voice and the promise of a career in music, she no longer feels worthy of singing.
Telling her father she and her brother Danny are going on a vacation to see their mother, instead she takes him to a frozen wilderness in Canada. She believes she is teaching him survival skills in case she is no longer able to care for him.
This is a character driven book. Lauren’s interaction with her friends and family, her feeling of displacement, her driving need to take care of her brother, paint a disquieting portrait of a returning warrior. The author also captures reactions from her friends and family to her strange behavior. Some ignore the signs or don’t see them, while others recognize that she has problems but do little to help her adjust.
The book is well written, captivating, delving into the mind of a troubled young woman. It has a good plot and there is mystery, but mainly it is about character. Excellent writing.