A Book Review

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I participated in a book review for the first time. The book is called Coming Home. It is the first time I’ve critically looked at a work that wasn’t my own. Of course in college we students had peer reviews, but that seems like another lifetime ago. As pleased as I was to imagine someone finding value in my opinion, I also wanted to share the book with the Ansbach Writers’ Group. A representative from the publishing company mailed us enough copies of the book to hold our own peer review.

It is a friend of mine who heads the club. She and three other serious writers meet monthly in a terribly cozy room on the top floor of our library. They sit around a large wooden desk in oversized, Old English styled arms chairs on wheels on the last Sunday of every month to support and challenge one another in their endeavors. Yesterday’s group meeting was the first one that I attended. They are an energetic bunch and I envy their comradery. Despite the fact that I am not a writer, they welcomed me with smiles and polite inquisitions of my own work. Then we got down to business.

I received our copies of Coming Home in the mail one month before our meeting date. I stacked the books neatly on my desk and waited. Despite small stares at the wonderfully colored cover, I didn’t lift its lid. Not even one inch did I fold back the top to reveal any sneak-peaks at the contents. I wanted to wait for the group to read it together. I was hoping for us all to react at the same time…and boy am I glad I did!

What a superb ending!

The book brought us all to big smiles and soft tears. The book is CHARMING. It’s charming beyond any words one could possibly use to describe its charm. Once we all reached the final page of the book we shared our opinions; all of which were of the highest praises. Then I felt as though to write a review for this book would be difficult. How do you get right-to-the-point and explain why you love the book without spoiling the ending? I feel as though to write a review for this book presents its own creative writing challenge; one that I am pleased to have accepted. Despite the fact that I write a few times each week for my blog, I consider myself a visual artist, not an author. For this reason, I was immediately drawn to the illustrations and their role in delivering the message of the story.

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My husband has only deployed once. Thusly, I have only been a part of one Coming Home event. For obvious reasons they are a big deal. It’s a mere speck in the grand scheme of time, but packing a bunch of people in one space that love one another, and haven’t seen one another in a long time is a big deal. In my opinion the author has perfectly captured every soldier’s Coming Home. The book has only a few words, and those few words are repeated. They precisely convey the inaction, and nothingness of anticipation. The illustrations describe perfectly each detail in the homecoming scene. I particularly appreciate the warm, bright tones of the middle ground. They are beautiful and emotional, as they rest between the dark boldness of the foreground and fading cool background. Reading this book only takes a minute, but it contains enough emotion for a lifetime and the images are captivating. With the turn of each page, the reader builds sympathy for the boy looking for his soldier. And it is not until the reader reaches the last page, that they are relieved, and delighted by the reunion.

Having not many words, the book is over before you know it. The emotional rush it delivered left me wondering, “Who is Greg Ruth (the author) and how did he do that?” I appreciate his Author’s Note, as the inquisitive adult in me wanted more. I enjoyed reading, and being reassured of the author’s hard work and intent. I can not imagine that it is easy to research such a powerful human interaction. I believe the simplification was as challenging as Mr. Ruth has described. I applaud his effort. This book is a shining example of the truism that it is not the words on the page that define the book, but how the book makes you feel.

And so. I have enjoyed this book enough to share it with you here, in my space. This is a link to purchase your own copy of the book and to read more of its praises. It makes a nice gift…dare I say…especially for female soldiers with children.

Also, I enjoyed the illustrations enough to explore Mr. Ruth’s website. I was pleased to sample his oeuvre and its myriad of images. Many of which I found to be satisfyingly cynical. As with any artist’s career; Greg’s talents reach far beyond what one sees in this single book.