Official Review: The Fourteenth of September

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Official Review: The Fourteenth of September

Post by kandscreeley » 08 Feb 2019, 10:24

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Fourteenth of September" by Rita Dragonette.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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I know a woman never tells her age, but I'm 37 years old. While I've seen many conflicts, I've never been around for a major war. In my lifetime, there has never been a draft. It's something with which I've had little experience. So, when I saw the opportunity to read The Fourteenth of September by Rita Dragonette, I jumped at the chance, as it discusses the Vietnam War.

The year is 1969. The place? Central Illinois University. Judy Talton is a college student on scholarship from the army in their nursing program. In exchange for her schooling, she's committed seven years of her life, in total, to this branch of the military. She's uncertain, though, if she wants to support the war effort. The body count (those killed in action) increases by the day. In order to figure out where she stands, she starts hanging around with the anti-war protesters. If she's discovered, however, she could lose her scholarship, or worse, her freedom.

The story is told from the third-person point of view and centers on Judy and her newfound friends. These kids, most no older than 19, face moral dilemmas that most of us have never even dreamed about. They are flawed; they are good and bad. Mostly, though, they're just kids wanting to get the most out of their lives.

I had a difficult time relating to Judy. I found myself angry at her for not figuring herself out sooner. Wouldn't it be prudent to evaluate your pro-war or anti-war status before you enter into a relationship with the military? I don't see this as a flaw of the book or the author, though. I think it is just a realistic depiction of the dilemma that teenagers faced. As I stated in my opening paragraph, I haven't had to deal with these situations. It's easy for me to sit here in the present day and age, saying what I would or would not do. But, I found myself thinking about my own moral convictions and my sense of right and wrong. Plus, since I'm a woman, I wouldn't have faced the lottery at the age of 19, which would have put me into the heart of a place where my life expectancy was a total of 6 seconds (at least according to this story.) The answers, then, are not as cut and dry as they appear to be. In my opinion, this is the biggest strength of the book - it makes you think.

If I'm forced to identify something that I didn't like, I'd have to say I wanted more information on the other side of the debate. The book focuses mostly on the anti-war movement. But, why did we go into Vietnam in the first place? Once again, this is probably more my failing than the book's. I don't know enough about this era in history. In fact, I don't even remember learning much about it in school. All the more reason for books such as this, as we should remember our past in order to not repeat it.

I must issue a warning. There are mature themes in the book. There is some drug use, there are sexual situations, people are contemplating suicide, and men are dying. The author is no more detailed than necessary, and this is all very fitting for that day and age. However, it means that the book is not suitable for all audiences.

Due to the lack of faults as well as the thought-provoking nature of the book, I rate The Fourteenth of September 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend this for those that enjoy character-driven stories and want to learn more about the anti-war efforts during the Vietnam War. I wouldn't recommend it to those that only read books full of action or even those who are looking for a balanced view of this time period. This novel is extremely provocative, and I think it's something that should be savored and not hurried through.

******
The Fourteenth of September
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Post by Cecilia_L » 11 Feb 2019, 09:26

I considered reviewing this book but decided against it because my uncle was drafted into the Vietnam War, leaving me with mixed emotions. However, I was drawn to the description of the book and after reading your interesting review, I may reconsider.

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Post by kandscreeley » 11 Feb 2019, 09:51

Cecilia_L wrote:
11 Feb 2019, 09:26
I considered reviewing this book but decided against it because my uncle was drafted into the Vietnam War, leaving me with mixed emotions. However, I was drawn to the description of the book and after reading your interesting review, I may reconsider.
I don't think it would be an issue for anyone who has bad memories from the war. It's not about the war, per se. There are no battles, no war scenes. It's more about how it affected college students of that time; how it affected those left behind. It's intense, but in a more sedate way. Hopefully that makes sense. Thanks!
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Post by SamSim » 11 Feb 2019, 10:17

"The answers, then, are not as cut and dry as they appear to be. In my opinion, this is the biggest strength of the book - it makes you think."
All the best books do, and all the best reviews do, like this one. I also know very little about that portion of US history, and we sort of passed over it in school. This book intrigues me.
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Post by kandscreeley » 11 Feb 2019, 10:20

SamSim wrote:
11 Feb 2019, 10:17
"The answers, then, are not as cut and dry as they appear to be. In my opinion, this is the biggest strength of the book - it makes you think."
All the best books do, and all the best reviews do, like this one. I also know very little about that portion of US history, and we sort of passed over it in school. This book intrigues me.
It is interesting that so many know so little about it. It does seem we pass over it in school. Why? Why shouldn't we learn from it, even if it wasn't the best time in our history? After all, neither was slavery, but we learn about that. Thanks!
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Post by kdstrack » 11 Feb 2019, 12:51

I had never heard that 6 second statistic before. Yes, there is so much more to learn about this time period. This author also seems to approach it from a unique perspective. I am impressed by your high praise for this book. Thanks for the informative review.

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Post by kandscreeley » 11 Feb 2019, 13:15

kdstrack wrote:
11 Feb 2019, 12:51
I had never heard that 6 second statistic before. Yes, there is so much more to learn about this time period. This author also seems to approach it from a unique perspective. I am impressed by your high praise for this book. Thanks for the informative review.
I know this book isn't for everyone. However, I know there are those that want to learn more about the time period without all the fighting and violence. This would definitely be the way to go in that case. Thanks!
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Post by BelleReadsNietzsche » 11 Feb 2019, 15:09

You know, I really enjoyed the personal way you opened this review.
I had a difficult time relating to Judy. I found myself angry at her for not figuring herself out sooner. Wouldn't it be prudent to evaluate your pro-war or anti-war status before you enter into a relationship with the military?
This always frustrates me! Why oh why didn’t you ask yourself that question before you got into this situation?! But it does happen so often in real life too, especially although not only with young people, and I agree with your assessment that it’s not necessarily a shortcoming.

Thanks for your thorough and thoughtful review!
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Post by kandscreeley » 11 Feb 2019, 15:13

BelleReadsNietzsche wrote:
11 Feb 2019, 15:09
You know, I really enjoyed the personal way you opened this review.
I had a difficult time relating to Judy. I found myself angry at her for not figuring herself out sooner. Wouldn't it be prudent to evaluate your pro-war or anti-war status before you enter into a relationship with the military?
This always frustrates me! Why oh why didn’t you ask yourself that question before you got into this situation?! But it does happen so often in real life too, especially although not only with young people, and I agree with your assessment that it’s not necessarily a shortcoming.

Thanks for your thorough and thoughtful review!
Even though I got angry at her, I wonder how many times I've formed an opinion on something once it's a bit too late? It was thought-provoking to say the least.
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Post by linham02660 » 11 Feb 2019, 19:44

I was too young to remember much about the Vietnam War. What I do remember came from my teenage sister who was into the anti-war stuff. I agree with your position on thinking it out before you dive into something. I am not innocent of doing this myself but I did learn fast from that mistake. Thanks for your honest and insightful review. I will pass on this book.

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Post by Jessacardinal » 11 Feb 2019, 20:04

At 35, I also fall into the group who didn't learn much about this time period while studying in high school. While reading your review, I realized I would have learned a lot more about the wars had they been presented in a format such as this book as opposed to the typical history textbook.
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Post by THarveyReadALot » 11 Feb 2019, 23:17

I thought your review, kandscreeley, was good. I don't remember learning much about the Vietnam era either, and I was homeschooled. But as an Oklahoman, I 'experienced' something bad when I was just 16. I'm just a few years older than you. I'm not sure I'm going to read the book, even though I like good historical-fiction.

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Post by kandscreeley » 12 Feb 2019, 08:44

linham02660 wrote:
11 Feb 2019, 19:44
I was too young to remember much about the Vietnam War. What I do remember came from my teenage sister who was into the anti-war stuff. I agree with your position on thinking it out before you dive into something. I am not innocent of doing this myself but I did learn fast from that mistake. Thanks for your honest and insightful review. I will pass on this book.
I'm too young to remember anything about it, but I'm sure it would bring up memories for those that were alive then. Thanks.
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Post by kandscreeley » 12 Feb 2019, 08:45

Jessacardinal wrote:
11 Feb 2019, 20:04
At 35, I also fall into the group who didn't learn much about this time period while studying in high school. While reading your review, I realized I would have learned a lot more about the wars had they been presented in a format such as this book as opposed to the typical history textbook.
Thanks for commenting. I think this would be a good one for so many different people. I hope you do get a chance to read and enjoy this one.
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Post by kandscreeley » 12 Feb 2019, 08:46

THarveyReadALot wrote:
11 Feb 2019, 23:17
I thought your review, kandscreeley, was good. I don't remember learning much about the Vietnam era either, and I was homeschooled. But as an Oklahoman, I 'experienced' something bad when I was just 16. I'm just a few years older than you. I'm not sure I'm going to read the book, even though I like good historical-fiction.
I understand. It's not for everyone. The good thing about this book is that there's really no mention of the actual fighting or war. It's a completely different side of the war.
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