Title: The Secret of Raven Point
Author: Jennifer Vanderbes
Source: from publisher for review
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.