Published by Harper Collins on 2/4/2014
Source: TLC Book Tours
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Following an attack by a roadside bomb, Iraq War veteran Leroy Kervin is seriously injured and living in a group home for disabled men. In a moment of realization and fear, Leroy attempts suicide, leaving him in intensive care at a nearby hospital. Freddie McCall is on duty at the group home when Leroy is injured and adds daily hospital visits to his rotating schedule of two jobs, which he works in hopes of paying off medical bills for his young daughter. Pauline Hawkins is the well-liked ICU nurse who cares for Leroy and the other patients on her floor, including a heroin addict who she works desperately to help.
The Free‘s main characters are connected through their relationship with Leroy, but the hurdles in their lives branch out to touch on topics much broader than the Iraq War.
Vlautin’s stark writing is his strength, as the novel has a distinct drag in Leroy’s more abstract dream sequences. With his added ability to write realistic dialogue, marked with clipped sentences and full pauses, Vlautin fills The Free with moments of true insight into the lives of everyday Americans.
While it can be a difficult read at times, as it will certainly touch too close to home for some, The Free shines with bits of hope over despair. Though he paints a clear picture of American crisis, Vlautin also gives readers reason to carry on.