Monday, September 30, 2019

You Can See More From Up Here

You Can See More From Up Here by Mark Guerin
Blazing Sapphire Press: 10/1/19
eBook review copy; 436 pages
ISBN-13: 9781936135714

You Can See More From Up Here by Mark Guerin is a highly recommended family drama and examination of a father/son relationship.

It is 2004 and Walker Maguire's father is dying so he returns to the small Illinois town he left behind years ago. His arrival brings to the forefront of his thoughts the summer in 1974. That summer he returned from college and went to work in the auto factory where his father, a retired Air Force colonel, was the company doctor. After he was forced out of the military, Walker's father was bitter and took out his anger on Walker.  Walker rarely returned home after that summer. It was the summer he first noticed prejudice when he witnessed a fight between his ex-girlfriend's father and a Mexican immigrant. It was the summer he truly fell in love. It was the summer where his fear of his father came to the forefront. Now a successful journalist, Walker is certain that he needs to reexamine this summer in order to finally understand/come to some sort of understanding of his father.

This is a beautiful written examination of a life-long alienation between son and father and an exploration of the past events that led to it. The narrative alternates between Walker in 2004, at the hospital, sitting with his father, and events from the time his family moved to Belford, Illinois, when Walker was 14 and his younger sister Paige was 9. Paige was their father's favorite child and often was the impetus that caused their father's anger to be taken out on Walker. As he is sitting at the hospital, it becomes important for Walker to write his memoir, and reflect on the summer that pitted son against father and changed their relationship. Unflinchingly honest, father, daughter, and son are flawed characters, but the empathy will be with Walker.

The strained relationship between father and son is an enduring struggle that stretches across time and families, as does a favored child in a family. Walker is a sympathetic character and Paige, well, she just inspires anger as does their father. The alternating narratives from 2004 and 1974 stand in stark contrast to each other because it is actions of a young man juxtaposed with the recollections of a middle aged man. There are times when Walker does become repetitive and the novel would have benefited in places from a quicker pace.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of the publisher/author.

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