Sunday, 12 October 2008

Praying Soldiers

Sorry this is so late...Life has been real rough on me lately. Five beds in one week, and tonight there isn't any bed at all. A friend once called it the Thousand Star Hotel. Well anyway I am very tired writing this but in fact I just finished reading Higher Honour and there's no better time to write a review, though I'd much rather sleep or sneak glances at the real Amish family that just came in, the first I ever saw.

This is a story about people. Young people, passionate and driven, struggling and desperate. Yeah, they're soldiers - cadets - and students too, caught up in a world so utterly foreign to me that this proved to be the book's greatest pulling power. I began reading it on a plane from Dublin to New York; I finished it in Washington's Union Station in the middle of the night. What is this country I have come to? Not what I thought; and neither is the book.

It's a deepy intense and personal story of ordinary Bible Belt kids thrust into a drama of life and death proportions. A tough topic, assault. But the pages also sparkle with a deep camaraderie and brotherly humour, as well as themes of forgiveness, loss and healing within a closely bonded military group.

I have not read anything like this before, and nor have I heard of anything comparable. I particularly liked the way the soldiers used their military skills in their private lives. I suppose that's what soldiers do. For me it served also as an image of American interpersonal relationships, an image that rings truer than all the movies I ever saw.

(review written in the bus station in the wee small hour)

When Cadet Cassidy Sanders is brutally assaulted, she struggles
to carry on as she turns further from the God of her youth. Her
attacker is an acquaintance who has his own struggles to face.
God uses their mutual friends to show both cadets the depth
of his grace and mercy.

Higher Honor is set within the sub-culture of America’s
military colleges. The novel focuses on the elements of honor,
brotherhood, duty, and the spirit of the characters to face
and overcome challenges that grow them into the military’s
next generation of strong, capable leaders. The realism of
Higher Honor’s setting and plot is a result of experience,
observation, and much research.

S.M. Kirkland brings firsthand experience to her fiction.
While a student at North Georgia College and State
University (the senior military college of Georgia) she
enlisted in the Georgia Army National Guard. During a 10-
year military career, she served as a photo- and broadcast
journalist while serving in Italy and for the 1996 Summer
Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Kirkland currently works for the Calhoun Times as the
government reporter and her feature stories have appeared
in newspapers nationwide. Her first fiction publication was
a short story "Fair Balance" included in the anthology Light
at the Edge of Darkness (TWCP, 2007). This story received
several rave reviews.

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