It is amazing that Steven Manchester can take the same alphabet most of us use, create the same words most of us use, and arrange them so skillfully that they reach in and stir profound emotions in a reader. His ability to connect the reader with the characters’ deepest feelings, fears, hopes, dreams, and love is incredible.
GOOSEBERRY ISLAND is a tapestry of a tale that depicts the horrors of war—even one fought for a noble cause—and how faith, hope, and love struggle to overcome the memories that rise up like demons to rule men’s lives and the lives of those who love these men and have the courage to help them survive PTSD.
Army Ranger David McClain and Lindsey Wood, the daughter of an Operation Desert Storm veteran with PTSD, meet the day before David leaves for a year’s tour in Afghanistan. Their immediate connection has them on the beach talking all night where they can see the lighthouse. The symbolism of the lighthouse, that stands like a missionary determined to save, is memorable.
David and Lindsey’s courtship via email, Skye, snail mail, and care packages reveals the change in David as he follows orders and does with skill what he’s been trained to do. When he returns home, he is no longer the baby-faced young man with a sparkle in his eyes.
Lindsey’s life with her war-damaged father makes her wonderful if she has the strength to deal with David. No doubt love is there, but she’s not sure it can conquer the demons that replay the horrors of war in David’s mind, driving him to do things totally uncharacteristic of the young man she fell in love. The degrading actions of her father make her life a misery at times. She perseveres with him and clings to hope that David will find the help he needs before it is too late.
David’s Ranger brothers add another level of often heartbreaking emotion to the story as do the flashbacks of David’s life and his relationship with his parents. These show his motivation, fears, hopes, and will to persevere. The reader is also privy to the battle David fights to reconcile his soldier training with his innate decency.
GOOSEBERRY ISLAND is full of memorable expressions, of symbolism, and of how enduring faith and love settle themselves deep in the hearts and souls of David and Lindsey and never allow themselves to be evicted. EXCELLENT READING!
Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short Reviews. It has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.