Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Once in a Blue Year is a contemporary fiction novel written by Michael D. Durkota. Dan has been honorably discharged from the Navy and has mixed feelings about the whole thing. He's thrilled to be off the submarine. Each deployment got harder and harder for him to take. It was the feeling of being enclosed with no means of escaping that made it so hard, bearable only by escaping into dreams of open woodlands and the outdoors. So his fall down a flight of stairs was a blessing in that it got him an immediate ride on a ferry boat home, but the sum they settled upon him for the permanent damage to his spine was not going to last an entire year. For now, he would be staying on in Groton, Connecticut, with his best friend, Nathan, his wife, Heather, and their infant son, James. Things change quickly, however, and unbeknownst to Dan, Nathan appears to have arranged a way for him to go on this deployment in lieu of Dan's roommate, Trevor. Trevor is shattered by the news that he's been kept onshore. He loves the submarine, the sounds, the rolling and pitching of the boat through the stormy seas and the whole submariner experience. He's infinitely more uncomfortable with the thought of his girlfriend, Tara, who is waiting for him to stop by her apartment.
Michael D. Durkota's contemporary fiction novel, Once in a Blue Year, addresses life in the military and afterwards in a poignant and compelling way. I was quickly involved in the lives of Dan, Nathan and Trevor, as well as their fellow sailor, Jags, whose attempts at getting discharged are comical and tragic all at once. The real hero of the story for me, however, was Dan, and his story works so well as a coming of age tale. When we first meet him, he's stunned by the change from sailor to civilian and seems to be clinging to the former by staying with Nathan and Heather, and remaining in the Groton area. The advice his friend at the photography store gives him to walk away from it all falls on ears that can't quite comprehend the words that are being spoken. Durkota's plot is inspired, and his writing is accomplished and vivid. I can still see so clearly those scenes set inside the submarine. Once in a Blue Year is most highly recommended.