Thursday, July 29, 2010

Book Review: The Last War

"The Last War" by Ana Menendez is another book that I reviewed for TLC Book Tours. For those of you who are interested in how it works - they send me a lists of books that are available to be reviewed, I tell them which books I am interested in reading, and they send me the book. Pretty sweet set up, isn't it? When I reviewed the list of books back in May, I knew I definitely wanted to read "The Last War." Between the book cover, the title, and the synopsis, I knew it would be a great book to read. It's about a husband and wife who travel the world, covering wars. Brando, the husband, is a writer, and his wife, referred to by her nickname, Flash, is the photographer. In the beginning of the book, Brando travels to Iraq to cover the war but Flash remains in Istanbul, waiting for her papers to come so she can join her husband. While in Istanbul, she receives a letter from an anonymous source, revealing that her husband has been cheating on her.

Receiving this letter really shakes Flash up and makes her re-examine her relationship with Brando. This excerpt sums up how the letter impacted her:

"I had not been sleeping well since the letter. My mind had wrinkled onto itself... Nothing made sense. One moment, you think you own your days, and the next, all the capriciousness and cruelty that you've kept in a box, that you've regarded from a distance, behind a lens, gets inside of you." (p. 34-35)

Receiving this letter forced Flash look back over the years of her marriage and determine if she was ever really happy with Brando. The book then flashes back and forth between her time in Istanbul and the time Brando and Flash had spent in Afghanistan, covering the war. By reviewing her past, Flash tries to identify a time when their relationship began to fall apart.

This element of flashing back on their time together, looking for the first sign of trouble, is what drew me to this book. I find it so interesting how many relationships that are doomed to fail seem to have a moment of clarity where one person in the relationship realizes that the relationship can't last. In this case, that moment of clarity occurred when Flash received the letter. But there were signs along the way - signs that Flash and Brando ignored and didn't work through.

I know I am drawn to books like this, but I don't know what I think I can gain by reading them. I know that hind sight is 20/20 - it's easier to look back in the rear view mirror and identify the moments when the cracks in a relationship developed. Cracks that would eventually grow and become canyons. I know a person can't constantly analyze their relationship, but as I get older, I am trying to be more critical in the moment. I don't want to get to the end of another relationship and ask myself, "Why was I ok with that?"

Again, this is another darker book. While it captivated me, I don't know that I would recommend it. I really wish I could have seen the relationship from Brando's perspective.

Nonetheless, it was a fast, interesting read. And it makes me really want to go to Istanbul where much of the book was set!


Becky said...

It sounds interesting - but thanks for the heads up that it's a darker read. I'm going to check out the TLC book tours thing right now!

Mandy said...

I think this definitely sounds like an interesting read. I think I'm going to put it on my list and maybe read it in the fall. Right now my frame of mind is light and happy, I have a hard time reading books that are dark in the summer.

Nora said...

Definitely sounds like an interesting book; thanks for sharing your thoughts on it. Probably a book I would be interested in picking up after I get through my millions of other books to read :)

It is always interesting/strange how we have all had those moments where we wonder what the heck we were thinking!

Charbelle said...

I'm glad you gave the warning that it was a dark read! I have trouble with those because I tend to go over and over them in my head, kind of like my own relationships :)
I'm currently re-reading some of my light easy, Norah Roberts reads.

Kyla Roma said...

That sounds like a really interesting read, and kind of intense! I think this might be a good October read for me :)

Amber said...

Ugh, I hate hindsight. I hate that feeling of KNOWING that if you'd done ONE LITTLE THING differently everything would have worked out different/better. I'm more talking small picture here than big picture.

It does sound like an interesting read, though. Not what I was expecting from the title/cover at all!

Gracie said...

Hm, this kind of intrigues me. I agree that both perspectives would be more interesting.

Lisa-Marie said...

It's on my maybe list, so I think I might definitely try it. I can handle some darkness.

Your reviews are brilliant Lisa!

Kelly said...

Sounds like a very interesting book. I think the hardest thing about finding cracks in a relationship is that hindsight is 20/20 like you said, but it's hard to be that objective in the moment. I think its really hard to know the line between this is more than I want to put up with and oh well no one is perfect I need to accept someone for their faults.

Abby said...

Sounds very interesting! I love hindsight 20/20. I analyze things so deeply - it's my favorite thing to do EVER.

I really think it's interesting looking at where things go wrong with personal relationships (reminds me of the movie 500 Days of Summer - my faaaavorite!)

Speaking of books, one of these days - you need to make me a list of books you recommend. Because as of next week - I'm getting back into reading! :) Wooo hooooo!

Heather J. @ TLC Books said...

The life of a war reporter is not something I could handle living, though it is fascinating to read about. I'm sure I'd be right there with you, wanting to visit Istanbul just as soon as I finished reading. :)

Thanks for being a part of the tour!

Amy said...

Great review. The relationship for me wasn't the main focus, I was more focused on the city and the journalism aspect. I guess what I mean is that it was definitely what the story revolves around, but it was the rest of it that made this book so great for me :)