GENRE: Contemporary Fiction/Inspirational
PUBLISHER: Harbourlight Books
RELEASE DATE: August 10, 2018
**WINNER of a Bronze Medal from the Military Writers Society of America**
Weighed down by guilt following the death of his two-year-old son, Mac McCann accepts a year-long position training police officers in Afghanistan. Leaving his wife Sophie to grieve alone, he hopes the life-or-death distractions of his self-imposed exile will build a wall between him and his pain.
As camaraderie builds between Mac and the men on base—including a local barber and his precocious little boy—Mac’s heart becomes invested in stories beyond his own tragedy and he learns he is not the only one running from loss. But when the hour of attack arrives, will he be able to see past his guilt to believe there’s still something—and someone—worth living for? With touching details based on true events, Flowers from Afghanistan is a redemptive journey of healing, a chronicle of hope in crisis, and a testament to the faithfulness of God through it all.
Flowers From Afghanistan – Suzy Parish’s debut novel – appears at first glance to be a story about how a husband and a wife each cope with the tragic loss of their young son. And it is. But it’s way more than that, too. It’s also an authentic and emotional look behind the scenes of day-to-day life in a war zone, based on camp life in the real Camp Nathan Smith, Afghanistan, and a heartwarming picture of friendship that crosses cultural borders, Yet, at its heart, it’s really a story of healing and hope, of redemption and restoration, of grace and mercy.
The author’s descriptions of the military camp in Afghanistan were so vivid that I felt as though I were there, watching it all unfold in real time. Poetic language paints the scene with sights, sounds, and smells, like the example below, without overdoing it.
We were treated to a spectacular sunset. The sky was bright orange, the color of ice cream on a stick I bought as a kid. The rumbling of vehicles and helicopters played out like a soundtrack.
I also LOVED the Afghan barber Gul and his adorable little boy Bashir – they captured my heart from the first meeting. Through their characters, we are also treated to some moving Afghan proverbs that will linger with me for a long time.
“Yaar zenda sohbat baqee.
It means as long as the friendship lives, there will be more conversations.”
While the story is touching, with a powerful message and poetic writing, there were some continuity issues that interrupted my reading flow, and a couple of places where it seemed as though chunks of the story were missing. I also felt that the characters could have used more dimension; I needed to feel their motivations, not just read about what they did. Some of their decisions (or, also, a couple of plot twists) came across as very abrupt without really letting us feel the thought process behind them.
Bottom Line: One doesn’t have to read far into Flowers of Afghanistan to see that the author has taken great care to achieve cultural and military accuracy. This allows the emotional story to embed even more firmly in readers’ hearts and hopefully will positively impact how they view our soldiers, our military contractors, Afghan soldiers and the Afghan people from now on. While some of the writing could use some tighter editing, all in all this is a sweet, moving novel that paints an authentic picture of US military life in Afghanistan – and the impact deployments have at home, particularly when the marriage already is under strain. The message of God’s forgiveness, His protection, and His sovereignty is gracefully presented and poignant.
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 3.5 stars / Enjoyed it!
What about you? What interests you most about this book?