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Reviewed by Nicholus Schroeder for Readers' Favorite
Giant of the Valley is a collection of two emotional short stories by Harry Groome. Giant of the Valley, the first story, is set in the Adirondack mountains of New York. Louis McCutchen, a former bigwig in business, moved to the remote county after losing his beloved wife in an accident. Big Louis was making progress in his recovery from his emotional scars, but as he grew older his deteriorating health coupled with dementia caused the void in his heart to resurface. His grief threatens to swallow him whole this time. His three daughters try their best to care for him but developments in Adirondack will soon complicate everyone’s way of life. The next tale, The Witness, takes place during the bloody Bosnian War of 1992 to 1995. Jusuf Kurtovic, a renowned concert pianist, resides near Sarajevo with his remaining family members. His only son was lost to the senseless bloodshed. Jusuf's daily life is nothing short of a living nightmare. Bullets pierce the quiet of the night and the deafening blasts of mortar shells block out the lively sounds of the day. Every time Jusuf leaves the house to seek provisions, he fears that he will return to a pile of bricks and dismembered corpses. How long can he endure this living hell? Two elderly men both face their hardships with their heads held high. How will their tales end?
These short stories were riveting and quite heart-rending. The author's decision to have two different kinds of pain in stark contrast to each other was excellent. The first story focused on emotional pain or the psyche, whilst the second predominantly featured physical pain. This book covered the full spectrum of torment and reading about the atrocities of the Bosnian War did pull at my heartstrings. Picking a favorite between the two is difficult. Normally I'd lean toward emotional battles, but Jusuf's story was very moving and sad as well. So, both were my favorite I guess? The occasional surprises that Harry Groome had in store were another reason I fell in love with this book. The characters in Giant of the Valley were solid and well-written. I found myself relating to multiple characters as a result. Readers that enjoy emotional stories will love this book. The descriptions during the Bosnian War story weren’t overly descriptive, so even sensitive readers should be able to appreciate that story.