Petty suburban struggles, set against the backdrop of the Persian Gulf War.
It's November 1990, shortly before the onset of the Gulf War. Ilene and Phillip Singleton, a typical suburbanite couple, live in northern Minnesota, where they're building a new home. On the surface, their life is satisfying, quiet and unassuming–but not for long. They will soon face sudden and irrevocable change (all trivial on any level, but especially when compared to the turmoil overseas), foreshadowed by the chaotic thunder and lightning of a rare November thunderstorm! With the war looming, army reservist Phillip faces the unhappy prospect of conscription. No matter for Ilene, though–if this war thing affects her new house, she will definitely be unhappy. But as time passes, those concerns dim, as both Ilene and Phillip become embroiled in a poorly conceived, bizarre tumult of controversy and conflict. It's unclear how this all comes about and why it came about in the first place, but the "conflict" somehow reaches the highest levels of government and involves secrets, a banking scandal and mysterious accounts containing millions of dollars. Unexpected twists and turns of the plot abound, which quickly become transparent attempts to keep the reader in great, great suspense. Though the author occasionally succeeds, mostly the reader is left confused. Awkward writing doesn't help, either: sentences and whole paragraphs are constructed in tortuous, cliché-ridden language that makes it difficult to discern the intended meaning, if there is one, though it seems to take a glancing stab at questioning the country’s motivations for going to war.
Thankfully, though, there's a bright spot: Ilene's stock mother-in-law-from-hell, who manages to spring to vivid and frightening life. She should get her own book.