Friday, September 23, 2011

From Ashes to Honor, by Loree Lough

Austin was one of the first responder police officers the day of the 9/11 attacks.  Not only did he watch many of his fellow officers and other emergency personnel suffer devastating injuries or perish, he also lost his twin brother to the tragedy.  When the strain takes its toll in the months that follow, the department makes him see a psychologist.  His anger surfaces, and she is forced to recommend he be put at a desk job.  Years later, their paths will cross again, and sparks surface.  The two share a common bond, but is that enough to build a relationship?

I have to admit, when I first was given the opportunity to read a book labeled as a 9/11 romance, I was highly skeptical.  My concern was that it would capitalize on a terrible event just for the sake of a story.  I could not have been more wrong, and for that I am delighted.  Loree Lough does an amazing job of setting the tone of the story by opening with the attacks, but the majority of the book focuses on the long term impact on the people in the trenches that day.  An honest picture is painted of PTSD, alcoholism, failed relationships, racism and bigotry, and the overwhelming survivor's guilt experienced by the emergency responders in the wake of 9/11.

I really liked the character of Austin, and felt like we really got to see him develop over the course of the book.  I think his struggles are probably pretty typical of anyone suffering PTSD.  And while many other readers have disliked the ending, I found it to be brave.  Do you really think many of the actual first responders have gotten a happy ending?

The book definitely has a Christian tone, so readers should be prepared for that; however, it is not overly evangelical, nor is it out of the norm for the tone of other Christian romance novels.  I think that differences of faith can be a very real, and very heartbreaking, situation, and again I comment the honestly of Lough by writing the book in the way she did.

Many other readers think that fiction based on 9/11 capitalize on the victims and those who suffered great loss.  To that I say, put this in the proper perspective.  9/11 is a significant part of our history, albeit recent history.  It is no different that a writer setting a book during the Civil War, or the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Those were tragic events as well, where many lost their lives, but they are a part of our history as a nation and need to be included in art and writing.  To sweep 9/11 under the rug and never mention it in works of art and writing would be a real tragedy.  We must remember our past, so that we learn from it.

I received a review copy courtesy of the publisher.

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