4 out of 4 stars
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Emotional. Compelling. Intense. Brilliant. All words I would use to describe Model Marine by Sondra Sykes Meek. Classified as other fiction, I highly recommend this novel for anyone who enjoys a spellbinding read.
Molly Monroe enjoys acting on stage; her mother has had her in beauty pageants since she was a toddler. She and her best friend Beth are planning on attending the North Carolina School of the Arts together. Molly surprises everyone the summer after graduation, though, when she enters the Marine Corps.
Her mother is furious and refuses to talk to her. But life in the military is good for Molly. Stationed in Afghanistan as a Combat Camera Marine, she takes photographs and writes articles for publication. She only wishes that she would be allowed outside the wire once in a while.
Molly's story is told in flashes much as the pictures she takes with her camera. The author skillfully weaves the plot together going backward and forward in time at will. Rather than be confusing, this adds a hint of mystery as the reader pieces together what has happened. I was so enthralled with the glimpses of information I was getting that I couldn't stop reading until I assembled the whole picture. Ms. Meek does so well at letting the reader know who is speaking and giving clues about the time frame that at no point did I get lost.
I also appreciated the author's handling of military terms; as a civilian I often get bogged down by abbreviations, acronyms and slang. I didn't feel that way in Model Marine. The occasional unfamiliar term is mentioned, but the author leaves enough clues to understand what's happening without googling every other word. Thus, my focus was entirely on the story instead of on simply trying to figure out what was being said.
If you are at all familiar with my past reviews, you may know that I'm a stickler when it comes to editing. Nothing is worse than a great story that's riddled with errors as this takes away from the flow of the book. I'm thrilled to say that this book was very well edited. More than that, though, the story is so captivating that I found myself not even looking for errors. For me, that is entirely out of character, but that's how well-written this is.
There is no hesitation or uncertainty in my rating of this book. I rate Model Marine a solid 4 out of 4 stars. I honestly can't think of anyone who wouldn't enjoy this book other than perhaps those who suffer from PTSD (as it might bring back unpleasant memories.) To end my review, I'd like to leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book. It takes place when four female Marines (including Molly) are discussing their friendship.
******We're like gumbo, ya know? A unique dish, enriched by our diverse cultural influences, served together, to produce a most satisfying result.
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