Lumberloft Press (2019)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (07/19)
“The Raincrow” by Darrell Gasaway tells a poignant story that reflects life as it was for our soldiers in Vietnam.
In April of 1966, Lieutenant Craig Pearce headed into war in the jungles of Vietnam on the Cambodian border. Having left his safe hometown in New Mexico, he quickly found himself having to adopt to a harsh life. The sweltering heat, hungry mosquitoes, limited resources and frequent encounters with the enemy Viet Cong kept Pearce constantly on edge. In addition to the political drama, he also left behind two women who claimed to love him. One was an old girlfriend with whom he never had closure. When she re-entered his life right before he left for Vietnam, he didn’t have the heart to let the other woman go. Receiving their perfumed letters was a major source of solace for him. Having to decide which woman to keep was not easy. Pearce also formed new friendships among his comrades. Bonds quickly formed as they learned to work as a team when in battle. Losses during this time were especially harsh. By the time Pearce was able to return home, his relationship issue had been resolved. Unfortunately, he is haunted by the loss of a good friend who died in front of him. Moving on with his life, and leaving Vietnam behind was incredibly difficult, as it was for most of our soldiers who came back.
The author Darrell Gasaway has an incredible gift for creating a realistic drama. The setting comes alive with his vivid descriptions of the harsh conditions in which the protagonist was subjected. I found myself physically feeling much of the discomfort that the hero felt. When the hero received his perfumed letters, it was almost like I could feel his relief in having the scent of something familiar, and pleasant to enjoy. The battles with the enemy were also well described.
In addition to the sounds and scents of war, the author also takes us inside the protagonist’s mind so that we can feel how he was affected by having to kill, especially when the enemy was young. Death weighed heavily on these men. Trying to survive while watching others die horrific deaths also created a great deal of mental anguish. Despite all the negatives, the author manages to have the hero hold on to his humanity and soul. In some ways, this caused him more pain when he returned, but it also kept him human.
“The Raincrow” by Darrell Gasaway is a story that will leave readers thinking about it for a long time after the book is put down. As someone who is personally involved with a project involving Vietnam veterans, I feel like it really touched my soul. I highly recommend this novel to readers who enjoy historical fiction, especially of the Vietnam era. It would also make an excellent gift for a veteran.