"What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world." ~ Robert E. Lee
In The Book of Jonas, author Stephen Dau reminds us that the devastation of war goes beyond a battlefield littered with debris and dead bodies: it indelibly stamps everyone involved.
Dau illustrates this mostly through the story of Jonas, whose childhood village was destroyed by American soldiers, but also weaves in the stories of Christopher, one of those soldiers, and Rose, Christopher's mother. Through these three perspectives, Dau makes us ponder what we believe about justice, guilt, innocence, right and wrong.
It's a quietly powerful book. A multilayered story with multi-dimensional, multi-faceted characters. Dau is great at introducing a character, making us feel one way about him or her, then moving the camera so we see them from a different angle, triggering a different reaction.
For me The Book of Jonas is more than a story about war and its effects. It's a lesson in life and love, illustrating how rarely anything is exactly what it seems to be, either black or white. Even our memories don't tell the whole truth, limited as they are by a single viewpoint and tainted by other similar memories.
It's a reminder that none of us lives in a vacuum. Our lives can be dramatically changed because of one decision... sometimes our own but often someone else's. We also can't just ignore the traumatic events that leave their stamps on us, hoping they'll go away. If we do, we become their prisoners.
"The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keep out the joy." ~ Jim Rohr
This is Stephen Dau's first book. I'm eager to read his next.
This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.