War. Such an ugly word I have always thought. A word that can summon hundreds, thousands to their deaths with a click of its fingers. It destroys lives and creates fear that manifests into a waking nightmare drenched in blood and death. It’s ugly, disgustingly ugly and honestly dear reader what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.
Today on the blog I am reviewing Silent Heroes: When Love And Values Are Worth Fighting For (Published 10 July 2019) By Patricia Furstenberg. A big thank you to the author for sending me a copy to review, always appreciated here at Bunny’s Pause. Grab a cuppa and settle in for an emotional journey. Maybe grab some tissues too, its hard hitting stuff.
About The Author
Patricia Furstenberg started writing during her junior college years, her passion for books being something she inherited from her parents. She slowed down writing in order to obtain her Medical Degree and to give birth to her wonderful children.
She won two legs of the 2014 Edition of Write Your Own Christie Competition (chapters six and nine) and was chosen runner-up for chapter four.
One of the characters portrayed in her debut book, the short stories collection Little Friends, Big Adventures is Pete, the yellow toy elephant. Not many know, but Pete exists and lives in Pat’s home.
Silent Heroes: When Love And Values Are Worth Fighting For
How far would you go to save strangers in need?
Military Dogs risk their lives for their humans in a heartbeat, but can soldiers do the same when personal struggles and global affairs defy humanity?
When Taliban raids an Afghan village and discovers that girls can read, a woman accepts the blame to save the community. Her children’s’ lives become intertwined with those of the Marines deployed at a nearby military base.
Led by Captain Marcos who conceals, under a cool appearance, his lifelong disability to read human emotions, the solid team of soldiers is faced with the trauma of losing platoon-mates, both human and canine, with PTSD and with becoming estranged from families left behind. When the Marines are instructed to accept a mysterious young Afghan as their guide the humanity of local population they come in contact with raises questions about the necessity of war.
It is a race against time, fending off the Taliban lurking at the ancient Qala-e-Bost fortress and defending Bost Airport, a vital strategic point for the allies. But will the outnumbered Marines defend the Taliban cell, find the missing Afghan boy and arrive on time to save the other kidnapped civilians?
My word dear reader…this book makes you realise how lucky and fortunate we are. You may not have a big fancy house but at least you have a roof over your head and your stomach is kept full while you sleep in a warm bed. Meanwhile in poor unfortunate countries thousands of miles across the world the sound of a machine gun begins someone’s day with innocent blood spilled on the ground. Families being ripped apart and executed in front of everyone becomes the norm. The search for food, water and resources is a dangerous one as your path is littered with mines. One wrong move and BOOM, dead. This is the daily life of people trapped in a war they never wanted.
Without warning the reader is thrown onto the battlefield the moment they start reading. They barely have time to catch their breath as they are surrounded by the sights and sounds of war. The emotions and the fear explodes in your face, leaving you in a state of shock. Furstenberg writes a powerful sense of what it must feel like for the people living and fighting this battle every day. She triggers all the emotions, heightens your senses and completely immerses you in the bloodshed.
The well shaft looked up towards the stars and Marcos wondered how many battles and how many deaths it witnessed along with its tumultuous history. How many souls died down here and made their escape through its mouth? Soon the bodies scattered underground will rot and decompose and afterwards nature will take its course like it did so many times before.
The narrative follows a mixture of characters from marine soldiers to the local kids in the village. It’s compelling to read as you want these characters to survive, to be ok. You can’t help but get emotionally involved and feel their pain at the loss of comrades and family. It’s difficult to read at points but you persevere as you want, no…need to know that they make it out alive.
“I never understood why we were held at gunpoint by men speaking the same language, only crazed for power, thirsty to kill in the name of Islam. Throwing menacing looks, their black eyes, heavily creased, glaring from behind filthy headdresses that would come up to cover their faces as soon as they entered the village.”
They say a man’s best friend is his dog and that statement couldn’t be more true in this story. The marines are putting their lives in their dogs’ paws, trusting them that they will keep them safe. The tension Furstenberg creates is torture as you are on edge at every page turn never knowing if the path ahead is clear or deadly. Furstenberg beautifully demonstrates the strong bond between man and dog in a time of despair. The love and devotion they share for one another is pure, real and inspiring. It hits you hard.
It was heartbreaking to read about how the women in Afghanistan are punished for reading and writing. A luxury that we all take for granted. We don’t think about how easy we have it, walking into a bookshop, browsing the books before purchasing one and taking it home to devour. To know that somewhere in this crazy messed up world, this simple act could signal a woman’s death sentence leaves you speechless and horrified. It’s not right, and enrages you at how these peoples’ freedom has been cruelly snatched from them. The reader quickly learns that women have to cover up with a hijab and cease learning because they are a certain age. It’s infuriating and makes you want to do something, anything to help, to stop the killing and slaughter. You feel helpless.
There are a few precious tender moments that remind the reader that in the carnage and destruction that war brings, life still goes on. In the midst of it all the marines find the time to celebrate a birthday. It’s human and a heartwarming experience to read. We take so much for granted today, technology and how convenient we have it. Simple pleasures such as them playing football at the base stresses to the reader that these are the moments that count in life, the ones we often dismiss. These are the moments we should be making and living, really living life and being grateful that we have the freedom to do so because others have sacrificed themselves for peace. It shouldn’t have to be that way but unfortunately and depressingly it’s the truth. We should all spare a moment or two for those that have taken up arms so we could live. Show our respects to the fallen and honour their bravery.
Once the makeshift candles were blown, Kent winked at Dunn who was standing behind Seb in the celebratory circle. At this, Dunn made a standoffish birthday wish then clapped Seb on the back a few times and, with one last hard push, the birthday boy’s face ended up in the makeshift cake.
Furstenberg’s writing is brutal and honest. There are some pretty grim scenes as you would imagine in a war story but Furstenberg has a way that catches the grittiness and unpleasantness of it all that makes you realise that we shouldn’t look away, this has to been seen and needs to be stopped. It’s haunting as you realise that nowhere is safe. This is the world we live in and it’s chilling.
Tweedledum had been on many battlegrounds, yet each time he walked among the dead he felt how blindfolds rose around his heart and his stomach tightened in fear. These people, enemies or not, have been someone’s brother, someone’s son, a father that might or might not have had a chance to see his new-born baby. Those mouths twisted in death had once whispered dreams and hopes. Their eyes, now lifeless, half-closed in death, had enjoyed the beauty of nature and the smile of a woman. “It could have been me,” it pierced his mind.
I give Silent Heroes: When Love And Values Are Worth Fighting For By Patricia Furstenberg a Five out of Five paw rating.
This book has wrecked me, I was honestly a total mess. To read about such bloodshed and death was traumatic. But it needs to be read, seen and heard. It needs to stop and now. The Afghanistan war needs to be understood and put to an end. If only it was that simple, eh dear reader? It’s all about the power and corruption, government, money and weapons trying to rule the world. I can only hope optimistically that one day, humanity may eventually get there and the fighting will stop.
I strongly recommend this book to EVERYONE! It will open your eyes, make you cry and completely destroy you. Your faith in humanity will be questioned and you will be left emotionally drained but inspired to do something. Anything to stop the pain.
Patricia Furstenberg’s Website
Hop hop wiggle wiggle
Oh, my goodness, Emma, thank you so much! Your review left me breathless. You captured all the aspects of the story on such an emotional level, I bow.
Thrilled and honored to have met you.
Thank you for your time and energy, so very much.
Pingback: How is my Writing Different in my Genre - Stories by Patricia Furstenberg