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LEARNING TO STAY by Erin Celello


by Erin Celello

Pub Date: Feb. 5th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-451-23697-5
Publisher: NAL Accent/Berkley

A work of fiction based on research into the causes and symptoms of PTSD and traumatic brain injuries sustained by U.S. war veterans, this book also examines the lack of sufficient care available to vets once they have been discharged from service.

The narrator of this story is a junior associate in a law firm and the wife of a once-brilliant man who returns from Iraq with both traumatic brain injury and PTSD. From the beginning, we know they were once deeply in love and still are. The book opens with her spending a horrible night waiting to hear if her husband survived an explosion that killed her friend’s husband, his commander, and when she is finally told that he survived without apparent injury and will be home soon, she is beyond relieved. But then his sporadic, strange, angry and sometimes violent actions, of which he later has no memory, begin to destroy their marriage. She cannot recognize the man she married in the damaged man who returned. She attempts to get help for him from Veterans Affairs, with disappointing results. Eventually, it is a canine companion who will help him heal. In a conversation guide at the end of the novel, the author discloses that she has had no personal experience with the subject matter of the book. 

Alternately heartbreaking and heartwarming.