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2 out of 4 stars
Review by micoleon13
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Samantha helps many of the invalid, mainly elderly retirees in the town in her position of nursing assistant, assisting them with day to day activities. Several of her patients are war veterans suffering from PTSD, which can make them a little more difficult to get to know. None more so than her new patient Rob. Surly and taciturn by nature, Rob suffers from neuropathy caused by Agent Orange, a legacy from his Vietnam days, which severely impacts on both his health and life. Finding it hard to break through his silent exterior, Samantha finds common ground by bringing up her father in conversation, a fellow sufferer of PTSD. An unusual friendship develops between the two, leading Samantha to discover all is not as it seems in their little town.
For the last few years an evil presence has been lurking in the form of a con man, taking advantage of several of the elderly citizens, both financially and psychologically, as he plays on their weaknesses and trust. When Rob’s beloved cats go missing, Samantha takes it on herself to investigate, discovering there is so much more going on under the surface in Gulch Fork beyond a simple con. Once her life and those of her family are threatened, Samantha knows she has to take action.
As someone who knows next to nothing about PTSD, I found it very interesting all the different forms it can take and how debilitating it can be. This is obviously a subject very close to the authors’ hearts, as it is described by what only feels like personal experience.
With the story being based on true events, I was shocked that someone could be so devious as to take advantage of these veterans, playing on what is already a severely debilitating problem and increasing it tenfold. The masquerading as a preacher and as someone they could trust, makes all these events so much more despicable.
I have read a few books on Vietnam, where the main character Rob served, but very little on the aftermath; what happened to the soldiers when they returned home. Even with a war that had so much controversy surrounding it, I was still taken aback when Rob’s own homecoming was described, with him facing abuse and contempt from protestors. Even if people disagreed with the war, many of these soldiers were drafted and had very little other choice but to go and fight.
The writing was mainly in third person, switching to first person in the instances where Rob reminisces about his past with his friend Zack, both the happy times and those filled with devastation. I found this helped emphasise how alone Rob felt and how often the past haunted him, crippling his way of life.
There was a lot of unnecessary repetition in the story, not only with character names, but with repeating parts of the story already described. This resulted in a very slow paced storyline. Also the use of speech marks to show the characters thoughts became quite distracting, especially when trying to distinguish what had been said aloud, and what was just in thought.
I rate Iniquities of Gulch Fork 2 out of 4 stars. Although I found the content interesting, especially the various disorders and medical outcomes of PTSD, the lack of dimension in the characters and the slow story line did affect my enjoyment of this book. It would appeal to those readers wanting to learn about PTSD, how it affects so many people’s lives, as well as the various means they have found to cope. I feel there should be more books facing these topics and showing veterans that they are not alone.
Iniquities of Gulch Fork
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Great Review! 😀
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