Monday, May 28, 2018
Posted by JaneGS
The Gunners, by Rebecca Kauffman, came highly recommended by Joann at Lakeside Musing. I take her recommendations seriously as our tastes align quite well. I also liked the fact that it is is a new book, published in March of this year. I always try to read at least a few brand new books each year, and this one was definitely a winner.
The novel's central character is [this next part is the Amazon blurb] "Mikey Callahan, a thirty-year-old who is suffering from the clouded vision of macular degeneration. He struggles to establish human connections―even his emotional life is a blur. As the novel begins, he is reconnecting with “The Gunners,” his group of childhood friends, after one of their members has committed suicide. Sally had distanced herself from all of them before ending her life, and she died harboring secrets about the group and its individuals. Mikey especially needs to confront dark secrets about his own past and his father. How much of this darkness accounts for the emotional stupor Mikey is suffering from as he reaches his maturity? And can The Gunners, prompted by Sally’s death, find their way to a new day? The core of this adventure, made by Mikey, Alice, Lynn, Jimmy, and Sam, becomes a search for the core of truth, friendship, and forgiveness."
I really liked how Kauffman constructed the story--the five remaining friends met together over the course of about 6 months and reminisce about their shared childhoods, and those reminisces give us not only the backstory but put the current interactions between the friends into context and moved the plot forward.
It seems like so many books these days use the parallel narrative style (past and present), but this one was different in that the reader was never really in the past but was catching glimpses of it as the story emerged.
I don't have a lot to say about this book other than it had a compelling set of characters and I felt an overwhelming sense of nostalgia as I learned about their lives and what they meant to each other, growing up in such a tight knit circle in a small town.
My one frustration is that Kauffman never told Sally's story--she remained an enigma. None of her friends could understand why she broke away, why she committed suicide, why she left them. Perhaps that is the point of the story--when a tragedy like that happens, when someone disconnects so completely, it can be unfathomable and all you can do is hang on to those left behind.