War and humanity in a battle-weary America circa 2021.
Dedicated to victims of war, terrorism and violence and written under a pseudonym, O’Hara explores difficult issues that usually unleash preaching, moralizing and judgment. Refreshingly, the author avoids that and offers thought-provoking points. On an Amtrak train gliding from Wenatchee, Wash., to New York, psychiatrist O’Hara meets passengers whose stories inspire her to analyze her identity as well as the politics of war. America is at war with Syria, sparking vicious xenophobia masked as patriotism. American is now the official language of the United States; citizens eat American, not English, muffins. O’Hara gains a deeper understanding of how history depends entirely on perspective. As a Japanese American whose family survived the bombing of Tokyo in 1945, O’Hara tightly holds to her belief that war is wrong. She encounters a Vietnam vet, a Lakota Indian and a feisty teen prodigy on the journey, and they expand her views. From the vet she discovers that war is not always a clearly defined act. The Lakota man helps her realize that identity doesn’t have to be tied to nationality, and the teen stirs her long-lost fighting spirit. Though O’Hara’s prose is occasionally too precious, as a scene with two talking prescription pills illustrates, she raises brave questions. O’Hara questions people who use religion so they won’t have to think, wonders why American wars are filled with poor people dying for policies made by the rich and considers the many Americans who don’t face the ugly truth about war. Even though the novel is set in the future, O’Hara clearly condemns current U.S. military policies and envisions miserable consequences as a result. The novel suggests that realizing the humanity of everyone, regardless of nationality or religion, will guide the world to peace.
An heartfelt, insightful analysis on the inhumanity of war.