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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Hope in The Shadows of War is an historical fiction novel written by Thomas Paul Reilly. Timothy relived his experiences in the jungles of Vietnam on a nightly basis; everything seemed so real and so now, even though it had already been eighteen months since he had come home. He had begun to realize that he would never really leave Vietnam in his mind, that the struggles and the camaraderie of his brother soldiers would always be a part of, and color, his future experiences. But Timothy did have plans and hopes for the future.
He worked two part-time jobs while he went to college and studied psychology. He knew from experience how little help was often available to soldiers who needed to heal the parts of themselves that the war had broken, and he wanted to be a part of that solution. To that end, one of his jobs was in the psych ward of the local Catholic hospital, while the other was in a Christmas tree lot where Dez, the owner, was actively recruiting him to quit school and his other job and come to work for him on a full-time basis. Dez knew that Timothy was having difficulties keeping up with caring for his mother, paying the mortgage on the family home and paying tuition. Timothy knew he could handle all the challenges; however, he was 23 and had survived Nam. But it seemed the forces of despair were arrayed against him, and sometimes he felt as though he was losing the battle.
Hope in The Shadows of War is an enthralling account of a Vietnam veteran’s struggle to make up for the years he spent serving his country while supporting an ailing mother and coping with feelings of guilt over a missing comrade. Through his character, Reilly, who is a veteran and a psychologist, shares the sense of dislocation, of lost time, that veterans often experience when integrating back into society as well as the feeling that the war would never leave him. Reilly’s plot is intricate and absorbing, and his characters are well-defined and real. I especially enjoyed seeing the contrasting characters of Dez, the Christmas tree dealer, and Hoffen, the World War I veteran who becomes a mentor and friend to Timothy. Hope in The Shadows of War is most highly recommended.