Book Review: “The Long March Home” by Marcus Brotherton & Tosca Lee
I hope the authors receive interest from producers to make this powerful story into either a movie or 8-part drama series. It’s simply riveting and the authors bring this extraordinary story alive in its visual intensity which makes it simply breathtaking.
I didn’t know about the Bataan Death March in the Philippines and how the Japanese invaded the country immediately after bombing Pearl Harbour. But now I feel sufficiently informed having read Jimmy, Hank and Billy’s firsthand account of the sheer horror of the war. The three men, all still teens, enlist and are immediately sent to the Philippines where they train and wait for the war to reach them, having no appreciation of what they’ve signed up for. They’re mates, great mates, and they are committed to staying together, surviving the unimaginable atrocities, and returning to Mobile Alabama which they call home.
The story for the most part has a dual timeline as Jimmy, whose eyes the story is told, takes us back to life before the war in Mobile as well as being in the trenches with them in the Philippines. Three boys who’ve known each other pretty much all of their lives as well as Billy’s sister, Claire. Jimmy, Billy and Claire spend much of their early years together as best buddies while Hank, the eldest, comes and goes. He’s Jimmy’s hero and mate. We’re given an insight into Jimmy’s character, his struggles with his faith and his preacher dad who sounds like a ‘fire and brimstone’ man behind the pulpit as well as at home. His father wants him to follow in his footsteps as a preacher and is dumbfounded when Jimmy enlists.
I loved the friendship between Jimmy and Claire. It’s rare and very special. And even though there’s a lot of heartache between them, it’s their friendship that Jimmy holds onto so tightly when he’s in his worst moments as a POW.
This story isn’t for everyone. It’s at times very grim reading as the authors show us the brutality of war. I was often brought to tears by both the horror but also the incredible bravery of these 3 young men who loved each other dearly. But they’re also young men who don’t know how to communicate with each other the hurts that they have inflicted on one another from time to time through life. Until it’s almost too late.
Jimmy’s a complex character. The authors reveal a young man learning how to be an adult, how to express himself, to be confused with what he wants to do with his life, and how to be friends with the girl of his dreams. And then there’s the bond he shares with Claire that undergirds the entire story. It’s so rare to read of such a deep love that began when playing as kiddies in their respective backyards. It’s beautiful and often heartbreaking for them both and we the reader.
Bravo Marcus Brotherton and Tosca Lee.
I was very fortunate to receive an early ebook copy as part of the Revell Readers Program via NetGalley. This has had no bearing on my review. I expect I will purchase my own copy so I can treasure it on my bookshelves.