3 out of 4 stars
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The Greatcoat by Lawrence D’Antonio is a fiction piece that exposes the drastic consequences and trauma that result from war. With a focus on the Stenerude and D’Alessandro families, the author tells a riveting tale of family, combat, and forgiveness.
Herb Stenerude is a war pilot in the US Army whose plane is shot down by the German enemies during World War II. Even though he physically survives the attack, he witnesses a tragedy that leaves him mentally scarred. Years pass by, and Herb becomes a settled civilian with a beautiful family. Being unable to extricate himself from the war life, he decides to carry the burden of his trauma alone. His actions leave his family members with one burning question: will he take his secret to his grave?
On another note, there is continuous drama for the children of the Stenerude and D’Alessandro families. As they create new homes and embark on their quest for soul-searching, can they find happiness when the pains of war are ever-present? Amidst bomb blasts, terrorist attacks, and horrible calamities, these families discover and surmount the hardships of life together.
I must admit that from the first page, I was hooked. This story had me cupping my mouth and patting my chest at all the right places. At first, I mistakenly tagged this novel as a classic war tale of a soldier’s discovery of the disasters caused by war, but it is much more than that. D’Antonio did a great job in fusing a masterpiece war story with a story of family and togetherness. Also, the author’s words were very pictorial; it felt like I was the one living out the tragic experiences of Herb. I do not want to reveal too much, so I will only say that this book is a must-read.
I especially loved that the characters were realistic. The themes of trauma, friendship, and death were explored, and the author left no major character unscathed. I noted the expert character development; it pleased me no end. While this story was exceptionally written, and I would have loved to award it four stars, I have decided to give it a rating of 3 out of 4 stars.
The author began the narration using the omniscient point of view. Eventually, the rest of the story was recounted by Tommy D’Alessandro in the first-person narrative style. My problem with this was that the author’s transition from one narrative style to another was not expertly done. During Tommy’s narration, I discovered that the author tried to revert to a third-person narrative style, albeit unsuccessfully; this confused me, as I often could not tell when it was Tommy narrating or not. Also, this book was professionally edited, as I only found minor comma errors. It is owing to these reports that I deducted one star.
While I found no profanity, this book contains very graphic scenes, and so, I advise caution to sensitive readers. This piece also contains intense erotic scenes; thus, I do not recommend it to children or anyone opposed to eroticism in books. I highly recommend this piece to readers interested in war stories with a bit of romance.
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