2 out of 4 stars
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Akio, a Japanese soldier, goes off to fight in World War II, feeling confident that the conflict will be a short one. He is also sure his wife and daughter will be safe back home in Nagasaki. In the United States, a young man named Frank joins the Marines. He and the other young recruits with him have little idea how the war will impact their families, their sweethearts, and their friendships with each other. Decades later, Frank's granddaughter, Sophie, seeks to understand more about her grandfather's time in combat in Tomorrow is Always Wednesday by author Brian F. Decker.
Much like a slice-of-life tale, this book could be called a slice-of-war novel with split timelines. The author takes the reader back and forth through the years with scenes from various characters' lives before, during, and after their involvement in wartime. No matter which side of the war the characters fall on, the story portrays them as human beings with hopes, fears, grief, and love.
The unceremonious way in which the author presents some of the momentous and tragic events is striking. Imminent danger hovers beyond certain scenes with an eerie quality. The illustrations of humanity in the midst of war zones are affecting, even as the landscape conveys the sense of nature's unaffected constancy.
However, the strength in this novel's delivery is inconsistent. While there are times when the development and imagery are deft and effective, much of the writing has a novice feel. After the author gives his personal acknowledgments in the preface, the next paragraph in the preface jumps right into dialogue between two characters, with no warning. For the sake of clarity, the characters' first scene should have been separated into a prologue or its own chapter.
Issues such as awkward phrasing and missing prepositions make the reading choppy. The transitions within scenes are also awkward when the author skips ahead in time without indicating the shifts in time first. The way the story suddenly switches between different characters' perspectives on occasion is jarring. Various scenes, especially the romantic ones, develop with trite and repetitive wording.
The statistics and historical explanations in the reading do not always mesh with the flow of the story. It's as if the novel pauses now and then to become nonfiction for a while. Moreover, there are numerous errors in grammar and punctuation throughout the book. There are several instances of verb tense confusion in the narration, and the author mixes up homophones and other words with similar spellings. Also, the dialogue between characters runs together in some paragraphs, when there should be separate paragraphs for the different speakers.
In all, the essence of this story is an authentic and stirring tribute to a critical time in history and the people who played crucial roles in it. Yet, the inconsistent quality of the style and the frequent errors significantly detract from the book's presentation. Therefore, I give Tomorrow is Always Wednesday a rating of 2 out of 4 stars. I'd recommend it to readers of historical fiction, especially those with an interest in war stories. Even so, the book should be edited and proofread first.
Tomorrow is Always Wednesday
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