Revenants: The Odyssey Home is set in 1970s in USA. Betsy goes through tough time after her elder brother, Nathan, dies in Vietnam War. She becomes volunteer at hospital where war survivors get their treatment. At the upper floor she discovers mysterious patient. His face is deformed, and he cannot walk and speak. However, he uses his finger to communicate in Morse code with Betsy and her younger brother. The girl tries to do everything to discover elderly patient’s identity and take him home before he dies.
The book is about people who survived the Vietnam War and about those who lost their beloved ones. The war always brings death, damage and grief. Survivors are not the only one who suffer. Families that lost their relatives deal with pain too.
The argument between Nathan and his father shows the reasoning of those who join the war and of those who are against it. Nathan, as many young men, joined the army to prove himself, to show he was a real man. On the other hand, his father believed nothing good comes out of the war. There are always negative consequences- committed atrocities and lost lives.
I really appreciate the author for giving the book universal meaning. He touches the issue of Vietnam War, which becomes a symbol of any other war. We live in times when politicians send soldiers to the senseless military missions and when terrorist attacks happen every day.
Betsy, the main character, is young, passionate and believes in happy ending. She puts all her efforts to get the imprisoned elderly patient home. Probably she sees Nathan in him; helping the man is like helping her own brother to get home.
The congressman Hanna represents many politicians who support the idea of war. He encourages young people to join the army and to fight for their country. However, he shows ignorance and lack of compassion when he does not remember the name of soldier whose funeral he attends.
The story is based on Odyssey tale. Jamie, the mysterious patient, is a revenant. A person long forgotten and remembered again. Someone who returns home after long absence. It took Odysseus 10 years to get back home. Jamie was forgotten for 50 years, imprisoned in small hospital room, isolated from the rest of the world. After a half of the century he was found by Betsy, who tried to bring him back to life. Kauffman also shows that every action has its consequences. However, time cannot erase the things done. The price must be paid. Sometimes life does not go our way, sometimes there is no happy ending.
In my opinion, the Odyssey refers also to Betsy and people who suffer after losing someone important. She got through long time of recovery, grieving and missing her brother.
A small element deserves gratitude. Kauffman indirectly refers also to 1970s racism in USA. “Negro” working at hospital symbolizes the black people’s position in American society.
I think Revenants: The Odyssey Home cannot be classified into one genre. It is a war history, historical fiction, political thriller or even love story.
I really like the book’s structure. The chapters composed entirely of dialogs are followed by fully descriptive chapters revealing the true identity of mysterious patient. It keeps reader focused on the story.
The tittle perfectly suits the content of the book. It is memorable and honestly descriptive.
The only negative thing is that sometimes the plot gets a bit confusing and I was not sure to which character the author was referring to.
To sum up, Revenants: The Odyssey Home is beautifully written book. The author touches important subject of war and its consequences. Remarkable characters, interesting structure and perfectly suited tittle make the book really good read. I hope the book will receive all the coverage it deserves.
Overall rating: 4.5/5.0
I received the book from the author in exchange for honest review.