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Icebergs: A Novel
     

Icebergs: A Novel

4.6 5
by Rebecca Johns
 

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In World War II Canada, Walt Dunmore and Al Clark are the only members of their bomber crew to survive a plane wreck on Newfoundland's Labrador coast-but now they must fight injuries and cold in the sub-zero wilderness. On the home front, in a small Canadian farming community, Walt's young wife Dottie struggles with her own battles: loneliness, worry, and an

Overview

In World War II Canada, Walt Dunmore and Al Clark are the only members of their bomber crew to survive a plane wreck on Newfoundland's Labrador coast-but now they must fight injuries and cold in the sub-zero wilderness. On the home front, in a small Canadian farming community, Walt's young wife Dottie struggles with her own battles: loneliness, worry, and an attraction to an itinerant farm worker. Only one man comes home alive from Labrador, but the lives of their two families remain forever entwined. Years later, when both families relocate to Chicago, questions of loyalty and bravery ensnare their children as they confront Vietnam and their own desires. One of them is left with a choice: revenge or sacrifice.

The novel follows the characters into old age, when decades-old secrets illuminate the present and the past. Johns expertly interweaves multiple storylines, maintaining tight narrative tension and slowly revealing the stories that bind her characters together. An ambitious, lyrical debut that explores romantic love and deceit, death and survival, war and domesticity, marriage, parenthood, and aging, Icebergs explores how tragedies narrowly averted can alter the course of lives as drastically as those met head-on.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A plane crash in a remote area of Newfoundland during WWII leaves Canadian gunner Walt Dunmore to endure the oppressive cold along with his navigator, Alister Clark. Johnson's moving debut is at first a gripping account of their quest for survival-intertwined with the stories of their young wives at home-but broadens to a multigenerational epic. When only Walt makes it back to Ontario, his life is forever linked with his comrade who died. The plot rushes forward to Chicago in 1967, where Walt, his wife, Dottie, and their sons, Sam and Charley, live near Alister's widow, Adele, and daughter, Caroline. Both because of and in spite of the bond between their fathers, Sam and Caroline have an affair, cut short by Sam's paranoid jealousy. He enlists and goes to Vietnam, but the family's tragic casualty occurs stateside. The retrospective final part of the novel opens on the characters' lives in 1999. With stark, lovely prose, Johnson weaves a delicate tapestry of linked narratives, confirming that the paths not taken can be as significant as the ones taken. Like a ship navigating around an iceberg, "even near-misses leave a wake, an invisible breath that moves through the air." (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In this work, whose title is a metaphor for the sinking effect war has on everyday life, we read about lives being changed by calamitous events and wrong choices. The victims of such change include a veteran who dies as a result of radiation contracted in World War II; his wife, who suffers from loneliness and worry while he's away; and their son, who chooses the Vietnam War over his childhood sweetheart and whose later marriage to another woman is ruined by the aftereffects of that war. Other victims are a mother who becomes neurotic after her husband's death in World War II and her daughter, who displays similar symptoms when her boyfriend enters the Vietnam War. Debut novelist Johns is ambitious enough to tell a story that spans several generations, revitalizing the wartime genre. Her meticulous presentation of details will make readers feel they are actually witnessing the events, although sometimes the narrative is hurried to the extent that this is lost. This work has the appeal of a best seller and is recommended for public libraries.-Victor Or, Vancouver & Surrey P.L., B.C. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An earnest debut that opens with a terrifically exciting plane wreck over Labrador, then dwindles into decades of complacency. Walt Dunmore is the air gunner of a bomber forced down by bad weather three hours from Iceland, in 1944. He is the only survivor, rescued (with both hands frostbitten) after several days of watching over his friend and navigator, Alister Clark, who bleeds to death in the wreckage from a shoulder wound. Once Walt is returned to wife Dottie, living with her family on the Lake Erie shore, the story abruptly shifts to America in 1967. During the Summer of Love, Alister's daughter Caroline, a Chicago librarian and poet, wonders what's become of childhood sweetheart Sam Dunmore (Walt's son), who seven months earlier enlisted in the army. The two families emigrated to the U.S. in the '50s and stayed in close contact. While Sam is away, Caroline starts going out with his mischievous brother Charley and even discusses marriage. Much of the story rehashes these convoluted relationships, moving erratically back and forth over the years. A sentimental sweep of Canadian-American relations. After a promising start, recent Iowa Writers' Workshop grad Johns unrolls a listless tale with much telling and precious little showing. Agent: Richard Abate/ICM

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781596919464
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
12/11/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
File size:
2 MB

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Rebecca Johns was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1971. She has worked for publications such as LIFE and Woman's Day, and her articles have appeared in Cosmopolitan, Mademoiselle, Self, and Seventeen. She is a recent graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and received the Michener-Copernicus Award for this, her first novel.

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Icebergs: A Novel 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Icystar just because you camback alive doesnt mak you leader. Nightstar is. She turned and stalked back to her den
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Comes and says last chance ...growls
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not again. Throws water on her till she wakes up.