Sunday, April 1, 2018

Book Review: 'Death Grip' by Tracy Sherwood


Corporal Kat Hartley has been back in the US for several months after an IED exploded in Iraq and got her sent home from the war. Her guilt over her lover dying in the explosion is still raw and engulfing her every moment. Despite her best attempts at being the wife and mother her family deserved, it’s just not coming together for her. Kat has returned to find her almost-teenaged daughter angry and withdrawn, and the husband and world she’d left behind even more confusing and upsetting than when she’d been deployed. Settling back into “regular” life is just not what she imagined, and soon it becomes all too much.
This is a very emotional, heart-wrenching story on the difficulties faced by those returning home from war. Kat clearly has PTSD but is unwilling to seek help for it, determined to face it herself. After a near-accident, Kat is forced by her family to start seeking the help she needs. It’s not an easy fight for her and I found myself both drawn into her struggle and desperately hoping Kat could find the strength needed to help herself. I didn’t find this an easy read, and especially think romance readers looking for a happy, soft, pleasant book might not find this particularly satisfying. While strongly emotional, I found it realistic and uncomfortable to read.
The plot surrounding Kat’s grief over her lover’s death is also another sensitive issue. It’s not common for a romance heroine to have had an affair although I do think the author has done an excellent job of explaining Kat’s reasons and the difficulty of the position she’d been in. Even so, it was hard for me to feel sympathy for Kat struggling with her marriage in crisis and the serious issue of lack of communication between Kat and her husband. While they are both clearly to blame for their relationship issues, it has been Kat who was unfaithful, and this lessened my sympathy for her. No one deserves the emotional and physical distress she’d survived, but it was hard for me to feel a strong connection with a heroine who acted in such a manner to the family she’s left back at home. That said, this is certainly how I could perceive the reality of a soldier sent out to fight in the war. Life isn’t easy or clear cut and each decision has its own ramifications. Trying to come home and live a “normal” life is fraught with all manner of problems, and these are clearly and vividly described. The very fact this was such a hard read for me is proof of the authors talent, and perhaps once in a while we all need to be reminded that real life isn’t easy, simple or comfortable. In that respect, this is an excellent book and reminder of that.
A powerful, emotional read, this will not be to every reader’s tastes. I found the characters very life-like and while not sympathetic, I certainly felt invested in both them and the story.

Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short ReviewsIt 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.