Thread of Life

Stephen (U.S.) A. Noack

Publisher: Outskirts Press Pages: 411 Price: (paperback) $16.95 ISBN: 9781478722182 Reviewed: December, 2014 Author Website: Visit »

Set against the backdrop of America’s entry into World War II, this first novel in a planned trilogy pays homage to the Greatest Generation.

The year is 1941. Things couldn’t be better for Ernie and Sara Lancaster. The farm they own in Port Jasper, Maine, is thriving and they have three healthy children to treasure. However, Sara’s best friend, Doris, is not so lucky. Her husband, Tommy Barnes, is part of the U.S. naval fleet posted in Hawaii, on board the USS Arizona just as Japan strikes.

By focusing on family units, the novel tries to showcase war’s real human toll, but falls short of its mark. For one thing, while the author often portrays the Lancasters as the equivalent of a Norman Rockwell family, their depiction as sex-crazed lovers (“she just wasn’t able to get enough of their steamy hot loving”) is jarring and makes them come across as caricatures.

The novel is also in need of a thorough copyedit, as there are punctuation, spelling, grammatical and word usage errors throughout: “SHE’S BEING SHELLED UNMERSERLESSLY!!! [sic].” The story relies on capital letters, large fonts and multiple exclamation points for emphasis, when the narrative should convey the importance of those moments without the use of such crutches.

Large portions of the story are set in Maine, but apart from an occasional reference to the weather, readers are never completely transported to the Pine Tree State, and they are left waiting too long for the war (referred to throughout as “WAR”) to actually begin. .

At one point, a Thanksgiving celebration is described as the dinner that “went on and on for what seemed forever.” Unfortunately, due to the issues mentioned above, the same can be said of this well-intentioned but problematic narrative.

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