Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie @ Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be a favourite, an under the radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print etc.
Published 2005 by Point
Rebecca, a young nurse stationed in Vietnam during the war, must come to grips with her wartime experiences once she returns home to the United States.
First up – a great big massive THANK YOU to the ever thoughtful and amazing Angie, who gifted me this here book a couple of months ago, all because she thought I would love it and OH MY GOODNESS DO I FOREVER LOVE THIS BOOK.
I have developed an itch for war stories and unlike baloo from the Jungle Book; I can’t just scratch it away. It’s there under my skin refusing to be ignored, which I find really strange because for years and years I hated them with the fiery passion of a billion burning suns. And then The Book Thief happened. Followed by Something Like Normal and the show stopping Code Name Verity. Now , The Road Home has sealed their fate; I am unconditionally in love with war books.
Rebecca is the last person you would expect to enlist in the army, but after the boy she loves is killed in the war, she voluntarily signs up to be part of the war effort and gets shipped off to Vietnam to be a lieutenant nurse. Naturally, the war is a lot worse than she could ever have imagined and ends up with her being shot down from a helicopter she wasn't even supposed to be on and running for her life through the jungle on a broken leg of all things. Split into The War and The World we get to see Rebecca navigate her life both before and after the war and how to deal with the friends she lost and the friends she made. Mainly one Michael Jennings, the arrogant hot letter-writing-genius private she met in the jungle.
Basically this book shows all other books that bitches GET SHIT DONE because hot damn does White come out swinging.
I’m trying to adequately explain just how much this book made me feel things I NEVER expected a book would make me feel. This book is brutal and is unflinchingly realistic; from the drug and alcohol abuse of the doctors and nurses working in the hospital just to stay awake and alert. The never ending fear is apparent in every single line of prose; the descriptions so harrowing-ly painful that it sometimes took my breath away. You feel like you are right there in this strange place with piles of bodies surrounding you and the stench of death lingering in the air. To be able to do that with only words is phenomenal.
One of the hardest things for me was watching these strong characters hit rock bottom and then just when you think it has to get better for them, someone throws them a shovel and they have to dig themselves deeper and deeper into despair. But for all that this book is painful, it’s pretty damn hopeful.
I fell head over heels in love with Rebecca. She is a survivor in every sense of the word and to see her just going through the motions as she struggles to deal with what comes before and after was heart breaking. Her relationship with Michael is all encompassing; you can tell that he takes up her thoughts when she actually lets herself think. The constant back and forth letters between the two were perfect; the right combination of hilarious comments and unspoken words they won’t let themselves say.
Special mention for Major Doyle. I LOVE YOU. Maybe I can drop by for a drink and a smoke?
The Road Home is one of those books that even though its emotionally fraught and made me almost throw up from crying so much, it’s just comforting in a weird but wonderful way. I want to hide it under my pillow to keep it safe. I want to shove it into the hands of everyone I know. It’s a journey this book and one that I’m so happy to have been taken a long for. A favourite.