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Official Review: Unopened Letters from Dead Men

Posted: 09 Aug 2019, 16:43
by Cecilia_L
[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Unopened Letters from Dead Men" by Jeff Regan.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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It's 1968, the year following Janet Hennessy's death; sadly, she's no longer there to serve as a buffer between her husband and two sons. To escape his father's blame for his mother's accident, Al Jr. joins the army and comes back with an amputation and a drinking problem. His younger brother, Billy, is the star basketball player on his high school team, but his performance never meets up to his father's unreasonable demands. After his father physically assaults him for not scoring enough points, Billy leaves home to find Al Jr. In Unopened Letters from Dead Men by Jeff Regan, the story follows the relationship between a father and his two sons, as they each struggle to deal with their loss.

Regan's experience as a mental health worker lends authenticity to his writing as he addresses the complexities of father-son relationships, sibling rivalry, abandonment, child abuse, alcoholism, war-related PTSD, and loss. Strong characterization drives the story, and Regan masters the important rule of showing versus telling. Each family member features strengths and weaknesses as well as likable and unlikable traits. As the story unfolds, the characters gradually show signs of growth. Because of his athletic skills, Billy has been raised to be arrogant but learns vulnerability. Al Jr. begins the story as a fragile shell of a person and becomes more confident.

I most liked Regan's poignant portrayal of Big Al's relationship with his two sons, which was dysfunctional long before his wife's death. The father's overt favoritism of his younger son was heartbreaking and resulted in negative consequences for both young men. While Al Jr. experienced the brunt of his father's disapproval, Billy struggled to live up to his unrealistic expectations. However, as Regan revealed Big Al's past through the multilayered storyline, it brought to mind the expression "Hurt people hurt people."

On the other hand, I disliked the oversharing of details that occasionally caused the pace to lag. For instance, I struggled to maintain interest in the play-by-play descriptions of more than one high school basketball game. In another example, Al Jr. related to a character in a movie, but the desired comparison could have been achieved without sharing so much of the movie's plot.

I rate Unopened Letters from Dead Men 4 out of 4 stars. Despite some extraneous details, the book is exceptionally edited, and Regan delivers an engaging story featuring complex characters. Readers should be aware that the book contains plot-related violence, profanity, and non-explicit sexual content.

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Unopened Letters from Dead Men
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Re: Official Review: Unopened Letters from Dead Men

Posted: 10 Aug 2019, 06:33
by Michelle Fred
I like the plot. Stories about loss and how people cope with them always interest me, the other themes are interesting as well. Thanks for the review.

Re: Official Review: Unopened Letters from Dead Men

Posted: 10 Aug 2019, 12:00
by Cecilia_L
Michelle Fred wrote:
10 Aug 2019, 06:33
I like the plot. Stories about loss and how people cope with them always interest me, the other themes are interesting as well. Thanks for the review.
Thanks, Michelle. I appreciate your comment.

Re: Official Review: Unopened Letters from Dead Men

Posted: 10 Aug 2019, 20:28
by Bluebird03
I appreciate that Regan's experience as a mental health worker adds a realistic dimension to his story and in addressing the issues you listed. Your review was most informative and enjoyable!

Re: Official Review: Unopened Letters from Dead Men

Posted: 11 Aug 2019, 21:00
by essyallan7475
A great review. Itd about how we cope with loss. We all at times loose the one we love. We all cope in different ways. I like the plot

Re: Official Review: Unopened Letters from Dead Men

Posted: 12 Aug 2019, 06:06
by Cecilia_L
Bluebird03 wrote:
10 Aug 2019, 20:28
I appreciate that Regan's experience as a mental health worker adds a realistic dimension to his story and in addressing the issues you listed. Your review was most informative and enjoyable!
Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Re: Official Review: Unopened Letters from Dead Men

Posted: 12 Aug 2019, 06:07
by Cecilia_L
essyallan7475 wrote:
11 Aug 2019, 21:00
A great review. Itd about how we cope with loss. We all at times loose the one we love. We all cope in different ways. I like the plot
Thank you.

Re: Official Review: Unopened Letters from Dead Men

Posted: 12 Aug 2019, 07:03
by OuKoyoo
Your review points to an amazing plot. I find your review to be informative and I believe the book is just that; informative. Thank you.

Re: Official Review: Unopened Letters from Dead Men

Posted: 12 Aug 2019, 17:16
by Cecilia_L
OuKoyoo wrote:
12 Aug 2019, 07:03
Your review points to an amazing plot. I find your review to be informative and I believe the book is just that; informative. Thank you.
Thank you. :tiphat:

Re: Official Review: Unopened Letters from Dead Men

Posted: 12 Aug 2019, 21:26
by kdstrack
It seems as though the father's abuse served to draw the two brothers closer. I agree, the details about the games and the movies would be fatiguing! Thanks for this intriguing recommendation.

Re: Official Review: Unopened Letters from Dead Men

Posted: 14 Aug 2019, 11:43
by Cecilia_L
kdstrack wrote:
12 Aug 2019, 21:26
It seems as though the father's abuse served to draw the two brothers closer. I agree, the details about the games and the movies would be fatiguing! Thanks for this intriguing recommendation.
Thanks for your comment. :tiphat:

Re: Official Review: Unopened Letters from Dead Men

Posted: 19 Aug 2019, 03:34
by MatereF
The role played by mothers is very key in any family. In most cases, when a mother passes on, some families go through what the family in the book went through. I like the fact that the author has experience working as a mental health worker. This is a must-read for me. Thanks for such a wonderful review.

Re: Official Review: Unopened Letters from Dead Men

Posted: 21 Aug 2019, 03:58
by shravsi
I am quite intrigued by your review. The author has work experience in healthcare. So this book will help everyone after the loss of a family member.

Re: Official Review: Unopened Letters from Dead Men

Posted: 21 Aug 2019, 08:04
by Wanja Hannah
From the title of the book, it sounds appealing. I love the themes focused in the book and the plot is a great one. Great review.

Re: Official Review: Unopened Letters from Dead Men

Posted: 31 Aug 2019, 10:08
by Laila_Hashem
This sounds like an amazing read. The title drew me to it and I love how it speaks about mental issues. Great review!