Ballistics

16034236

How did I get it?:
I bought it.

Synopsis:

It is summer and the Canadian Rockies are on fire. As the forests blaze, Alan West heads into their shadows, returning from university to his grandfather’s home in the remote Kootenay Valley, where the man who raised him has suffered a heart attack. Confronting his own mortality, the tough and taciturn Cecil West has a dying request for his grandson: track down the father Alan has never known so that the old man can make peace with him.

And so Alan begins his search for the elusive Jack West, a man who skipped town before his son could walk and of whom his grandfather has always refused to speak. His quest will lead him to Archer, an old American soldier who decades ago went AWOL across the border into Canada. Archer has been carrying a heavy burden for many years, and through him Alan learns the stories of two broken families who came together, got too close, and then fell apart in tragic ways.

Ballistics is a remarkable first novel, about family ties and the wounds that can linger for generations when those relationships are betrayed.

Thoughts:

I read Ballistics as I’m reading all of the books on the Waterstones 11 debut novels for 2013 list. This list highlights authors that show much promise. Ballistics does show D.W Wilson’s talent for writing, but unfortunately it didn’t grip me as much as I’d hoped it would.

It was told from two perspectives and from 2003 and 1970. I usually quite like this, but I don’t think it was always made clear which perspective it was coming from. I sometimes found myself having to go back to check that the perspective had changed.

The story begins in 2003, Alan is a PhD student, he’s temporarily back in Invermere as his grandfather Cecil has had a heart attack. Cecil asks Alan to go on a search for Jack, Cecil’s estranged son. Finding Jack isn’t easy because of the raging forest fires in the highways of the Kootenay Valley. Alan needs help to navigate the off-road routes. Help comes in the form of 82-year-old Archer. Archer was a US marine who went into Canada to avoid a tour of Vietnam. He found support in the West household, just a few years before Alan was born. He knows Alan’s family well, so he’s able to reveal to Alan the truth about the early ’70’s that caused Alan’s family to fall apart.

I don’t think I was particularly the targeted audience for this book. It’s being classified as ‘Hyper Macho’, something I’ve never heard of, but apparently it is when the chief concern of the book are men and manliness.

I really liked D.W Wilson’s writing style, it was easy to read. I just don’t feel the subject matter was for me.

Would I recommend it?:
It wasn’t for me- I don’t think I was the intended reader for this book. I’m glad I read it though, D.W Wilson is a talented writer.

Reading next:
Beauty Queens- Libba Bray

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