BOOK REVIEW: MEMORIES OF JAKE BY SUSAN MOORE JORDAN
“One brother can’t remember. The other can’t forget. Andrew and Jacob Cameron are tied together by a bond more powerful than blood. As young children, they experience a horrific event that tears their family apart. Then just as they complete their high school years, the Vietnam War intensifies. Both young men serve in the military: Andrew in the Marine Corps, Jake as a Green Beret. Each brother is damaged by his service in Vietnam, Jake in a way that will change his life forever. Andrew, always protective of his rakish younger brother, is determined to restore Jake and their relationship to normalcy. But when Jake disappears, Andrew's life is left in shambles. His loving parents, his always supportive wife Mary, even his burgeoning career as an artist seem not to be enough to alleviate the pain of Andrew's frantic question: Where is my brother?"
MEMORIES OF JAKE, the new fiction novel written by Susan Moore Jordan, is a passionate story that recounts the relationship two brothers, Andrew and Jake Cameron face when each must find their way back from not only the Vietnam War but the emotional baggage that has followed and haunted them since childhood.
What I found especially captivating about this book, besides the story itself, was the way the author so accurately portrayed the effects of war, PTSD, and the pain of those war leaves behind–the mothers, the fathers, the wives, and children … lovers and dreams. As a mother of a Vet who saw war and now with my youngest son entering the military to serve, the brother’s reaction when he saw the pain in his mother’s eyes, not knowing if her son would make it home in one piece was all too real. The pain he knew in his heart that his absence had caused as well. If I may quote from the book:
“Andrew’s throat constricted as he saw his mother lift her chin high. God. Think of all the mothers all over this country who don’t have a son to share Christmas with … a son who will never come home. He put his arms around his mother again. “I love you so much, Mom.”
But then this author did something powerful. Instead of letting this scene end, she drew from Andrew all of the pain he too has had to carry and face, all of his haunts and memories. In a flash, Vietnam came barreling back.
“With no warning, Vietnam came back to Andrew in full force. Everything. The mud, the unending rain, the heat, the searing sun that could make a man’s brain boil. The sounds. Incoming and outgoing artillery. Warning sirens on the base. Screams of wounded, dying men. He shivered violently and started to hyperventilate.”
And this is Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. A very real and extremely debilitating syndrome that comes from facing a traumatic or a series of traumatic events. It is a disease process that can emotionally cripple a person if not diagnosed correctly and then treated properly. PSTD is war related, but it is also associated to sexual assault survivors, people who have repeatedly been exposed to life and death situations, people who have witnessed or been victim to assault or other heinous crimes. The accumulated shock, the danger, the trauma … the experience of feeling numb, irritated or agitated… And sadly, even over the years once the danger has passed, the lingering effects of the events that lead to the PTSD do not lessen the devastating impact for the survivor. Author Susan Moore Jordan portrays this accurately all throughout this book, and I salute her.
MEMORIES OF JAKE is not just a war story, not just a story of pain and rebirth, but a story of love, family, friendship and the unstoppable ability of the human capacity to conquer that which sets out to destroy them. It is a story of hope.
“I have learned now that those who speak about one’s miseries usually hurt, those who keep silent hurt more.”–C.S. Lewis
About the Author [AMAZON]
“When Susan Moore Jordan was a high school student in the mid nineteen-fifties in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, a close friend went through a shattering event just as she was preparing to audition for the high school’s annual musical. Decades later Jordan used that experience of tragedy to triumph to write her first novel, How I Grew Up, in 2013. Two additional novels followed: Eli’s Heart in 2014 and You Are My Song in 2015, completing “The Carousel Trilogy.” A fourth novel, Jamie’s Children, was released in July of 2016. All of Jordan’s novels are drawn from her life experiences as a voice teacher and stage director and are inspired by real people she has encountered. Jordan attended the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati and moved to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania in 1971 with her late husband and three young children, where she established a private voice studio and directed local community and high school musical theater productions. She retired from directing in 2015 after over thirty years and wrote about her adventures in “More Fog, Please”: Thirty-One Years Directing Community and High School Musicals, released in November, 2015.”
All of Jordan’s books are available on Amazon in paperback, and the novels are also available as Kindle editions. Paperback copies can be purchased at the Pocono Cinema and Community Center whenever the theater is open. For more information, please visit her website at www.susanmoorejordan.com and her Amazon author page at http://ow.ly/XCjYX