I usually don’t write reviews that contain spoilers, however, I felt that it was necessary in this case to convey just how powerful an author Nyman really is. I have denoted the paragraph containing the spoiler with these: **
If you are interested in downloading a copy of Nyman’s novel, if can be found on Amazon.com for $9.99
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Carrie Nyman’s novel is historical fiction based on letters her grandmother, Honey, received from her husband, Don Shepard. I enjoy historical fiction, especially that surrounding WWII, and I downloaded a copy of Nyman’s first novel over Memorial Day weekend. Her publisher was doing a promotion and the book was free that week, so I figured, “Why not?” Honestly, I was not expecting much. I have read many novels by first-time “authors” and if I had to pay for the book, I would not have read it. But it was free so what did I have to lose?
I was shocked. From page one of Nyman’s novel I was hooked and found myself unable to put the book down until the last page. Her ability to convey real human emotion is amazing and inspiring. I have carried on conversations with people who did not have as much tangible emotion as Nyman’s characters, Honey and Don. It was incredible.
In the beginning, I was not a fan of Don Shepard. He was cold, manipulative and at some points he even seemed mentally ill. Many times, I found myself questioning his love for Honey while other times, it was clear that the sun rose and set on Honey. Yes, Don could be a jerk, but toward the end of the novel he redeems himself in a totally expected yet unexpected way. I did not see the event on the horizon, but when it happened, I was not all that shocked. It did cause me to see Don Shepard in a new light and not just for the snot he could be.
**Honey, Nyman’s grandmother, was an amazing voice throughout the novel. She came across as a woman ahead of her time. She did not want to get married immediately after high school. Instead, she went on to college in Saint Louis and became a medical technician. She wanted to be an independent woman and in the 1940s that was going against the grain. Hearing the story told from the point of view of such a strong woman made the pain so much more real and intense when her telegram arrives. The emotion that Nyman conveys when Honey learns of Don’s death was incredibly intense. I found myself going through the same emotions as Honey. Denial, shock, and rage filled my mind as I, too, wondered if the State Department had made a mistake. The ability Nyman has that allowed me to relate to Honey’s emotions was mind-blowing, never before have I felt a character’s joy and pain so acutely in a novel.**
The story Nyman has created from her grandmother’s letters deserves five stars. However, I have read a lot of books and I can be a stickler. I started noticing many spelling and grammatical errors beginning at chapter 10. For me, this took away from the context of the book just a little because I found myself having to piece together what was meant on occasion. Also, I found some descriptions of places and things to be a bit wordy. There was one point where the retelling where things were located on Honey’s farm where I had to skip the someone painfully drawn out text. Nyman’s description of Saint Louis, however, was fantastic (but I am biased as Saint Louis is my hometown). Overall, the book is a four-star masterpiece that will definitely get a higher rating from me if the second edition fixes these minor blemishes.
Nyman has a gift that is rare to find in a new author. Her writing is emotional, three-dimensional, and human. I imagine there will be many more fantastic novels from Nyman in the future and the reading world will see great things from her.