Sunday, December 30, 2012

Life's What Happens

The strength so this writer lies in her ability to create authentic characters, developing them to the point where we care about them very deeply. Life's What Happens is set at Kent State University in Ohio in 1969/1970 and its characters are a group of fraternity brothers. This is the period of time at Kent State when the US nationally reinstated the military draft to get enough young men into military service to serve in the Viet Nam war. The fraternity brothers followed are predominantly seniors whose lives will be irrevocably changed when the numbers are drawn that will allow them to either finish their lives on a normal course or will send them to serve and quite possibly die in the rice paddies and jungles of Viet Nam. How this affects their lives and the lives of their girlfriends and friends is beautifully and accurately portrayed. The horrific event of the National Guard being called to quell peace protests on campus that led to the deaths of four students at the hands of the National Guard and the subsequent closing of the campus during finals is integrated into the story in a way that neither supports nor condemns the deaths of those students. The book is very well written with wonderful characters, memories of the good times they shared in college and the sorrow at the changes in their lives wrought by events outside of their control. I do suggest that the author check out the erroneous use of Marshall Law in the place of Martial Law, the law invoked that allowed the National Guard to be present on that fateful day in 1970.

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