The Secret of Raven Point

February 2, 2014 Fiction, Historical Fiction 11

16130674Title: The Secret of Raven Point
Author: Jennifer Vanderbes
Source: from publisher for review
Rating: ★★★★☆
Review Summary: This book was darker and more depressing that my typical fare, so I think it’s a testament to the author’s superb writing skills that I was blown away anyway.

Juliet Dufresne has always looked up to her brother so once he enlists, becoming a nurse is an easy choice. When her brother is reported missing in action, Juliet is determined to find out what happened to him, even if that means lying about her age. However, once she reaches the front, her only connection to her brother is  a man so shell-shocked, he may never speak again. Juliet will have to work hard to balance her desire to learn more about her brother with her duty to her patient.

In general, I hate depressing, dark, and gory books. This book was definitely all three! Unlike in Somewhere in France, there is no glossing over the gruesome bits of war nurse’s job. At least half of the characters we’re introduced to are seriously injured or dead by the end of the book. I had a hard time giving this book four stars, because I didn’t finish with feeling happy about the book. I finished feeling depressed by the horrors of war. So the question is, what made this book so good anyway?

I think the answer is this: the story felt real.  In so many books and movies, a character is introduced who you just know you’re being made to like so that you’ll be sad when they’re killed off. It’s frustrating to me because the author could have written anything they wanted and they chose to mess with my emotions by writing something sad. In The Secret of Raven Point, I felt as though we were getting a glimpse of real events. It was never obvious which characters weren’t going to make it. The author didn’t oversell the grief and violence either. They happen and Juliet moves on because she has to, taking the reader with her. As a result, I felt that the author did a great job portraying the unfairness and unpredictability of war. The unpredictability also meant there was always hope, just as in real life. And that is what I loved about this book. It was poignant, heartbreaking, and gritty, but most of all it felt very real.

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11 Responses to “The Secret of Raven Point”

    • DoingDewey

      I’ve gotten on a bit of a WWII kick myself lately. I just love reading a bunch of books that relate to the same topic, whatever that topic is. It’s fun to see themes starting to emerge and to really get a feel for an era or subject by seeing several different perspectives. Plus, there’s some fantastic WWII fiction and non-fiction out there, so it’s easy to find good books about the time period.

    • DoingDewey

      Haha, nope, to each their own! When Rebecca and I were at ALA, we had a lot of conversations about how she liked her books more dark and depressing than I do and I could completely understand how she might want something a little less cliched than many happy endings are. Some of the best books where authors really push the boundaries can be dark and depressing and while those aren’t always my thing, this one was so well done it won me over despite my preference for more of a fairy-tale ending 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      It was so good! And if you like tear jerkers, you should pick this up. I don’t think I ever actually cried, but The Book Thief and The Last Unicorn are pretty much the only books that have ever made me cry, so that’s not saying much. It was definitely plenty sad, but also hopeful and for some reason, I never felt like the author was making things sad just for fun. Maybe because it all contributed to the way she was trying to portray the war? Whatever the reason, I thought it was very well done 🙂

  1. Charlie

    This sounds a good one, and written to be more realistic than just a good book. I think it’s silly, when a character is there to make you feel sad and it’s obvious, because it doesn’t really achieve anything.
    Charlie recently posted…January 2014 Reading Round-UpMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      I hate characters who are just there to make you sad and it’s true that once you spot them, they don’t really accomplish anything. As soon as I realize that a character is just there to be killed off, I do my best not to get attached to them and it takes the emotional impact out of their death.
      DoingDewey recently posted…Some Almost Awesome Fiction in Mini-ReviewsMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      I thought it was incredibly well done. It’s hard to say for sure what someone else will think, but I have a feeling this is one you’d like 🙂