*Spoiler alert*
Hannah Kohler has written a universal story about the insanity of war and what better backdrop than the Sixties, California and Vietnam War? Jeannie and Kip loose their mother in a tragic accident. This loss defines the teenage siblings’ lives for years to come. Kip gets into trouble, fights with his dad and on a whim decides to enlist and go to Vietnam. Jeannie gets into trouble with the first eligible man that comes along (a medical doctor no less) and settles for a quiet but unhappy life as a housewife. However, fate has other plans. For Kip the true nature of war uncovers gradually. There are no heroes, no honor. Just regular guys trying to survive day to day the best they can. And when Kip has finally had enough, he resorts to an act that will change his life forever. Back home Jeannie finds the lust for life with a young and beautiful but reckless anti-war activist Lee. Together they try to help drafted young men to avoid active duty by falsifying medical certificates. This side of the story I have no problem with. Kohler has done her research. The thing that is missing is the ever so important atmosphere. Kohler doesn’t describe enough the surroundings, clothing, decor, music etc. This story could have taken place anywhere, anytime. And for a 1960s enthusiast this is a bit disappointing. The lesbian relationship between Jeannie and Lee seems pointless. I don’t think that plot twist brings anything new to the story.

This novel inspires me to search for other novels or short stories about the Vietnam War and the home front. Preferably something that was written and/or published in the 1960s or 1970s. I have to research this topic further…