An edgy, intricately plotted coming of age tale… A page-turner.
Set in the mid-1980s in northwest New Jersey, McMahon’s gripping coming-of-age tale explores love, familial relationships, friendship, trauma, mistakes, lost opportunities, and second chances. Struggling with PTSD, Michael Walsh, a Vietnam veteran, is barely going through the motions of his aimless life. Alcohol, drugs, and wanton sex fill his days and nights. But when the resolute, lovely Terry moves next door, Michael falls hard for the latter, realizing there is more to life than living in your mother’s basement and getting lost in drugs and booze. But the path to love and fulfillment is not exactly easy. McMahon immerses readers in a complex and intricate world of alcohol and substance abuse, PTSD-related trauma, shifting relationships, tangled morals, and twisting motivations as Michael embarks on a path of self-destruction. He draws Michael and Terry perfectly, capturing the former’s fears, inner turmoil, and struggles with PTSD and drug and alcohol abuse, and the latter’s determination to get Michael out of the oblivion. Michael’s flashbacks that take him back into the war-ravaged terrain of Vietnam are haunting. In taking an intimate look at Michael’s PTSD-related issues, McMahon successfully attains the commendable feat of making readers understand and sympathize with Michael’s self-destructive behavior. Original premise, richly-drawn characters, and a tautly constructed plot keep the readers invested. The pacing is expert, and the tension stays high as McMahon introduces new twists and turns throughout the narrative. This is a rich novel with an absorbing plot, complex characters, and a pleasing, feel-good touch of romance. Readers won’t be able to put it down.
By John M McMahon