Monday, October 15, 2012

Just Remember to Breathe by Charles Sheehan-Miles

Just Remember to Breathe. Charles Sheehan-Miles. Cincinnatus Press. November 2012. 290 pages - paperback. ISBN #: 9780988273608.

Alex and Dylan had what seemed to be a promising love affair while they were both foreign exchange students in Israel a long time ago.  The stint in Israel ended and each went their separate ways, believing they'd had a good thing but that it might not continue.  However, they stayed in touch until one day Dylan sees something that absolutely devastates him.  He totally switches off email and Facebook and joins the Army.  There the tragic sequence of events escalates when he and friends run over a bomb in Afghanistan, one that kills his good friend and shatters his leg in multiple spots. But the inner wounds are far deeper than that!

Chance throws Dylan and Alex together at Columbia University, where they are forced together in a work-study program for a drunken professor seeking research for another book. It's quite clear they still are absolutely mad over each other, but they agree to a set of "Rules" in order to keep their work life together separate from their past relationship.  Rules, it is said, remember, are made to be broken!

To say more would spoil a poignant story of love surviving trauma of the highest order.  For Dylan has a past haunting his present behavior, a past he doesn't ever want to repeat or inflict on a loved one.  Add to that the tremendous fury and guilt resulting from his Afghanistan time and what we clearly know to be post-traumatic depression and more.

In spite of the heavy background and tension-ridden scenes, this is a novel of hope and forgiveness.  The theme of healing and wholeness is stronger than the wreckage of war, stronger than the havoc of family misunderstandings.  The characters get stronger.  No naive scenes fill these pages; sheer cusp-cutting dialogue cuts through the nonsense, avoiding annoying repetition and insisting on change rather than pity.  The romance is hot and honest as well!

It's a refreshing, necessary point of view that we need to hear more of in this decade when soldiers are returning from single or multiple tours of duty, some to be treated in a similar manner and others to be ignored.  Kudos to you, Charles Sheehan-Miles, for taking on this topic and creating a novel that should be read by a wide audience!!! Just Remember to Breathe is a must read!

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