The Right Side

The Right Side

by Spencer Quinn

Overview: In this riveting new novel by the New York Times bestselling author of the Chet and Bernie mystery series, a deeply damaged female soldier home from the war in Afghanistan becomes obsessed with finding a missing girl, gains an unlikely ally in a stray dog, and encounters new perils beyond the combat zone.

Enthralling, suspenseful, and psychologically nuanced, The Right Side introduces one of the most unforgettable protagonists in modern fiction: isolated, broken, disillusioned—yet still seeking redemption and purpose—LeAnne takes hold of you and never lets go.

Deanna Boe (11/25/17): This is simply a book that I snatched off the shelf of the Akron library. I knew nothing about the author, so naturally I did not know he is usually known for his Chet and Bernie mystery series, as well as his series for middle school grade readers, Bowser and Birdie. I am glad that I checked it out.

This intense novel is based on a young lady, LeAnne, who has just returned, damaged, from the war in Afghanistan. She is missing her right eye, plus has scars around that area of her face. It begins with her in Walter Reed hospital along with a room-mate, Marci, who has lost part of a leg. Marci receives her prosthetic leg and seems basically upbeat whereas LeAnne is an angry and confused lady, who no longer feels she is a soldier. These feelings are only intensified when Marci dies suddenly from a blood clot to the brain. Now what?

LeAnne became interested in the military because her father had been an enlisted man in the army. She worked very hard and was accepted at West Point but unfortunately her father picked that time to commit suicide which devastated her. Instead of going to West Point she enlisted.

After the death of her room-mate LeAnne takes off, not really knowing where she is going to go and what she is going to do. In the meantime the military has one last “mission” they want her to do for them and somehow they always seem to find her, even after she took off for parts unknown.

Throughout the story your heart goes out to LeAnne and you find yourself wondering just how she is going to survive all the anger that is in her. An interesting turn of events happens when a dog literally saves her from committing suicide and becomes more than a lost dog who somehow knows she needs a “buddy.” Up until then LeAnne had always disliked dogs and had nothing to do with them.

How does LeAnne come to grips with all the guilt and anger that is found inside of her? Did she really let her fellow soldiers down? What mission does the army still have for her? In short, just how do our military personnel return from all these tours in the Middle East and continue a “normal” life, even if they haven’t been injured.

I lived in Laos, and Saigon, Vietnam during the war. I was a teacher and not a soldier, but even though the war was all around the city of Saigon, I could still hear it at night. For years after I left Vietnam I had dreams that concerned the Vietnamese military in their uniforms, doing who knows what. I can more than understand the problems our military personnel face once they return stateside. The anger as portrayed in this novel in terms of LeAnne is not exaggerated, if anything it could even be understated. The author does an excellent job of depicting her feelings and PTSD. Nowhere could I find out if Quinn had been in the military. Interesting he write books for middle school age kids, I need to check them out.
Rating: ****

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