3 out of 4 stars
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Alex Hurley, a young reporter for the Associated Press, finds himself waking up in a hospital on the morning of June 5, 1968. The proceedings of the night before are blurry: he remembers being front and center for Robert F. Kennedy's victory speech after winning the California Primary, but then all chaos broke loose. Soon, the memories rush back: he remembers Kennedy going down, the shots fired, the shock of realizing he had been caught in the crossfire, being trampled, the world going black—and now his dreams of future peace are lost.
Dreams That Never Were, by Greg Messel, is a historical fiction account of the aftermath of Robert F. Kennedy's assassination in 1968. The story follows the fictional character Alex Hurley as he copes with the loss of hope and all the "what ifs" of the tragic night when the presidential hopeful was killed.
The author did an excellent job of setting a somber tone as he recaps the night of the Primary. This first chapter read as a sort of prologue, setting the scene for the tragedy before transitioning to Alex's perspective in chapter two. From there, the reader gets to experience the emotional climate of the year 1968 as Alex reminisces about the death of Martin Luther King, the ongoing Vietnam War, and the impact of the loss of Senator Kennedy.
The book also has a lighter note as Alex finds himself in a tentatively-blossoming romance that gives him a light of hope in an otherwise dark time. Messel weaves in some notes of suspense as he touches on the conspiracies that arose at the time. The story was engaging and sparked some curiosity in me. As the events unfolded in the story, I found myself doing additional research to find out more about the '60s. This was my favorite aspect of the book: I enjoy learning, and this book left me with a rich experience of the emotions that fueled America in a year that was unfamiliar to me.
There was not much to dislike about the book except for the editing issues. Because I found more than ten errors, I rate the book 3 out of 4. A final round of proofreading would clear up these errors and easily rate a full four stars. The book is fitting for an adult audience with a handful of mild profanities and a bit of sensual content that involved passionate kissing and lovemaking. The author's writing style was simple and straightforward, his story compelling, and I would certainly consider reading another of his currently-available books. This one was an educational delight that I think will be a hit with other fans of historical fiction as well.
Dreams That Never Were
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