Sunday, December 23, 2012

Letters to Mary McGraw

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 6:29 PM

Letters to Mary McGraw by JaneBarrie
What's your name?" he asked, hand on the door knob. She smiled, "Mary." "Like the Virgin?" he laughed, stepping out of the restaurant.
Banner Credit: Casey

Brittany Thinks: I have never personally known anyone in the military, but stories about military men and women and the people who love them fascinate me. As a plot point, such stories delve into an aspect of the human condition that I've never experienced, but feel great compassion for. To be separated from someone that you love, unsure of when or if you will see them again requires a courage and strength of character that I greatly admire. For this reason, I was immediately drawn to Letters to Mary McGraw. Mary is a kindhearted, optimistic, small town girl who meets James three days before he embarks on his third tour of duty in Vietnam. Our two leads have little in common and barely knew each other, but Mary feels compassion for a lonely soldier in obvious emotional pain. They begin a tentative friendship through letters sent across the world, interwoven with the terror of war and the endurance of the human spirit. Where James is pessimistic and hardened by war, Mary is bright eyed and confident in his future. While Mary has trouble finding herself, James sees her clearly and offers a perspective on the world far surpassing her own naivety.

JaneBarrie manages to capture the emotions of a time of turmoil in American history truthfully and factually with an unbiased eye. I felt apprehensive at first that this story would sway too close to one side of thinking from that time more than the other, but was pleased to discover she paid credence to a true historical event without allowing it to define the story. Mary and James are well developed and the supporting characters - particularly their respective parents - offer a well rounded cast of interesting individuals. My main criticism is the letters sometimes felt too short and I didn't always feel the connection between the characters as strongly as I may have with face to face interaction. However, it allows the reader to know the two leads how they began to know each other. Also, sporadically characters used language, particularly slang, that seemed a bit too modern for the time, but I didn't find it overly distracting. I expected this story to follow a cliche more closely than it did and was surprised at how JaneBarrie made it her own. Be forewarned: have your tissues ready and be prepared for some crazy twists and turns. This is a lovely historical piece easily applicable to current times. Letters to Mary McGraw presents a story of friendship, love, survival, and how one person can change you forever if you only have the courage to let them.


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