Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Catherine West's Yesterday's Tomorrow ~ Reviewed

Yesterday's Tomorrow
By Catherine West
Published by OakTara
ISBN 978-1-60290-278-7


Independent, career-driven journalist Kristin Taylor wants two things: to honor her father's memory by becoming an award-winning overseas correspondent and to keep tabs on her only brother, Teddy, who signed up for the war against their mother's wishes. Brilliant photographer Luke Maddox, silent and brooding, exudes mystery. Kristin is convinced he's hiding something.

Willing to risk it all for what they believe in, Kristin and Luke engage in their own tumultuous battle until, in an unexpected twist, they're forced to work together. Ambushed by love, they must decide whether or not to set aside their own private agendas for the hope of tomorrow that has captured their hearts.

A poignant love story set against the backdrop of war, Catherine West has captured the tumult and essence of Viet Nam in the pages of her book, Yesterday's Tomorrow. I could feel the overpowering humidity, hear the cacophony of voices and the burst of gunfire. Novel Journey and I recommend Yesterday's Tomorrow for a wonderful summer read.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan
Editor, Novel Journey

Bonus Review:

Gritty. Compelling. Moving. Catherine West's debut novel epitomises these words as she plunges the reader into a much derided war and a time in history many wish to forget. Vietnam in the late 60s and 70s comes alive in this story of an idealistic journalist and a jaded photographer, both struggling to make sense of a country torn apart, as much by political agendas as bullets and mines. Luke's despair and fatalistic courage made him an intriguing and complex character that I was drawn to and while it took more time for me to warm to Kristin, she won me over with her heart and bravery. Catherine captures the essence of a war zone and the tale reflects the desperation and brutality armed conflict engenders, juxtaposed with desire, love and hope as Luke and Kristin discover a love worth pursuing. The final chapters slowed down a little and I was anxious to get to the end as the outcome remained in the balance. Yesterday's Tomorrow is an honest and heartbreaking story that, thankfully, does not shy away from the realities of war or the choices made in harrowing situations. Catherine West is a talented author and one I will be watching. You should too!

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Bonus Review:

I loved the cover of this book. It helped to set the tone for what to expect inside! I was thankful for the review copy and the opportunity to read such a gripping, emotional book.

Catherine West pens an honest portrayal of how disturbing the Vietnam War was for everyone. What happened there, the challenges they faced and how the soldiers were treated so horribly when they came home.

Main character Kristin Taylor is young and was passionate about being the best reporter in Vietnam, which wouldn’t be easy in a male dominated field. She was compelled to complete the mission her father died trying to complete.

She partnered up with Luke Maddox, who was a photographer per her bosses’ request. This guy got under her skin. Who did he think he was bossing her around – They were equal partners last time she checked?

Kristin tells her partner, “Luke this war has gone on so long that nobody back home seems bothered by what’s going on over here…I don’t think they have a clue what it’s really like for the guys on the front lines. Neither do the people who think we should be here. The whole country is caught up in a political quagmire. If you support the war, you’re accepting the death of countless men in the name of freedom; if you protest against it you’re a peace-loving hippie in bed with the communists.”

Kristen found conditions rough and wanted to be safe. She learned to survive and had a sarcastic wit about her. Things were crazy, but she found herself drawn to her partner. That was the craziest thing of all- she fought it on many levels. Luke was an amazing photographer but could he be trusted? She was becoming tough and street wise, and wondered who she could rely on? She knew she definitely couldn’t depend on God!

Kristin asked her brother Teddy, “Where is God in all this madness?” “...Since coming to Vietnam, she’d seen nothing to convince her God even existed.”

“Kris…God didn’t make this war. We did…when I think about this war, I think about the guys on the front lines, I can’t help but think of Jesus. “No greater love has a man who lays down His life for his friends.” That’s what the guys out there are doing for us. Kris. None of this makes sense, I know, but it makes even less sense without Him!”

What’s normal after Vietnam? When her assignment was complete- how could she go back to the USA? Who could she relate to? Kristin wasn’t the only one trying to figure life out. Many were afflicted with Post War Syndrome and didn’t know it. Josh set up Vietnam CafĂ©’s where people could get together and talk with others that they could relate to. This helped ease the pain and helped they cope with flash backs etc.

Catherine helps the reader get a taste of how people suffered in Vietnam and out- it’s gritty and real! She also helped show that God works all things out for His glory and our good! Luke says to Kristin, “We may never know why things happened the way they did. But I don’t think that matters. What matters most is how we grow through the struggles we’re given. At least that’s what I’m trying to do.”

I think this explains about everything we go through in life! I enjoyed this unlikely love story in the middle of a chaotic war called Vietnam. I hadn’t realized all the political issues and how dangerous it was not only for a woman but for anyone that was trying to help fight the good fight.

Thanks Catherine for such an honest, brutal look at this war. This story was gripping and would make a great summer read! Not only will you learn about Vietnam and history but you’ll see the hand of God at work in all things, amazingly- even in the middle of war. I look forward to reading more by this author!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

1 comment:

UK said...

Gripping, heart wrenching, poignant, fast paced, tender, descriptive . these are all adjectives that aptly describe Catharine West's debut novel Yesterday's Tomorrow. It's the story of Kristin Taylor, a young reporter out to prove herself by going into the field during the Vietnam War. In the midst of the horror and carnage she finds out what it means to be a friend, a lover, a Christian - a human being. This unfortunate era in US history is well researched yet never pedantic. Descriptive passages are wonderfully full and alive yet never get in the way of the story.