A retrospective novel about a wounded Vietnam veteran and the complicated woman who helps him cope with his disfigurement.
Debut novelist Sharry presents his tale through three distinct storylines. The book begins in the 1950s as a young Portuguese girl is being forced by her parents to immigrate to the U.S. and marry Inacio Raposo, a boy of their choosing. Sharry then switches gears and introduces the reader to the Ahearn family in Massachusetts during the early 1970s. After losing his brother to Vietnam, Peter Ahearn returns home wounded and emotionally wrecked. Peter’s fiancee abandons him, unable to cope with his missing arm and blinded eye. Peter retreats into himself, moving to an isolated lighthouse where he works as light keeper with the primary goal of avoiding others. Just as the reader is immersed in Peter’s story, the novel jumps 35 years into the future to follow Peter’s nephew, Mark Valente. The reader learns that Peter disappeared many years ago; he has recently reappeared with dementia, unable to explain his whereabouts for the prior three decades. To unravel the mystery of his uncle’s life, Mark relies primarily on a journal that Peter left behind. As Mark sifts through the journal, the threads of the story finally begin to weave together. Mark learns that the Raposo family lived near the lighthouse, along with their attractive young daughter. As he tries to piece together what happened between the Raposos’ daughter and his uncle that might explain the disappearance, Mark too becomes enchanted with the young Ms. Raposo. Moving at a fast clip, the book at first presents like a light beach read, but the narrative explores many weighty issues—alcoholism, depression, physical abuse, adultery—which Sharry covers with insight and finesse. Although the book takes its sweet time in reaching its stride, the tale becomes quite gripping as the details of past mysteries unfold.
A nostalgic romance, rich with Portuguese culture and a few surprising twists at the end.