3 out of 4 stars
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Set in 1970, Sons of a Citizen Soldier by Mark Abernathy is the story of a father and his two sons as they navigate circumstances that threaten their family. Cope, the family patriarch, is a WWII veteran. One of his sons is an attack pilot being sent to Vietnam; the other has burned his draft card despite fears of disappointing his father. While the brothers seem to be heading toward different paths, they are reunited through an unexpected chain of events. They will protect their father and family's livelihood at all costs in this action-packed storyline.
This professionally edited book is 221 pages and features an action-packed plot that is driven by strong characterization. The recurring themes are good prevails over evil, and the end justifies the means. The plot includes a lot of violence, and sensitive readers should also be aware that the book contains sexual references and R-rated profanity.
Abernathy skillfully crafts a cast of strong male characters with distinct personalities. I particularly like his portrayal of Cope and his devotion to his two sons. Cope's actions exemplify commitment even when he doesn't agree with their choices. Abernathy poignantly conveys Elliot's inner conflict as he is torn between disappointing his father and fighting a war he doesn't support. Cope's younger son, Jack, faces challenges when unforeseen circumstances impede his career path.
Unfortunately, the same craftsmanship is lacking in the female characters. Abernathy describes women by their physical attributes: "The first thing they noticed were her long longs, then her supple hips and voluminous breasts trying to escape her bikini top." The storyline would have been enhanced by portraying women for qualities other than their sexual appeal and abilities to fetch pizza and frolic on the beach.
Halfway through the book, Cope comments, "Just when you don't know what to do, a solution appears. It's amazing." Unfortunately, these "amazing solutions" seem to follow every conflict, making them less believable and more predictable. Without exposing any spoilers, I'll say that I dislike the increasingly unrealistic aspects of the plot, including the conclusion.
I struggled with the rating for this book; given its strong male characterization, the objectified females are disappointing. Overall, I rate it 3 out of 4 stars, deducting a star for its predictable resolutions and lack of strong female presence. I recommend it to mature readers who appreciate wild adventures and don't mind violence. It will also appeal to those interested in survivalist lifestyles, gold mining, and treasure hunting. However, those who dislike the objectification of women will prefer to skip this one.
Sons of a Citizen Soldier
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