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The Last Day [NOOK Book]

Overview

I meet Jesus on the day I get home from the war. I’m on the beach, but I don’t know how I got here. My mind is as dark as the night. . . . I spend the whole night on the beach. But when the sun’s faint light begins to bend around the Earth, I see him. . . . There, coming toward me, out of the light, is a man. . . . Behind the man a faint curtain of light rises to the sky out of the ocean. He wears the light like a robe, though I see he’s dressed like me. Jeans and a T-shirt, no shoes. And that he’s older than I ...
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The Last Day

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Overview

I meet Jesus on the day I get home from the war. I’m on the beach, but I don’t know how I got here. My mind is as dark as the night. . . . I spend the whole night on the beach. But when the sun’s faint light begins to bend around the Earth, I see him. . . . There, coming toward me, out of the light, is a man. . . . Behind the man a faint curtain of light rises to the sky out of the ocean. He wears the light like a robe, though I see he’s dressed like me. Jeans and a T-shirt, no shoes. And that he’s older than I am, a lot older, maybe mid-thirties. He walks right toward me. He walks right into my eyes.

So begins the spellbinding story of Warren Harlan Pease, a young U.S. Army sniper freshly returned from the Iraq War to his native New Hampshire. What follows is a page-turning adventure that is also a powerful meditation on religion and war, love and loss.

The Last Day answers questions and asks many more. Armed with a sniper’s rifle and his deeply held faith, Specialist Pease travels across ideological borders and earns an appreciation for his enemy’s culture and for what connects us all as human beings. “War doesn’t test your faith in Jesus,” Warren comes to realize. “It tests your faith in yourself.” Upon returning home, he spends an entire day with Jesus visiting and contemplating his own life with fresh eyes, and a willing heart. He examines his relationship to those he loves, and grapples with the pain he has been carrying inside since the death of his mother when he was just a boy.

This extraordinary work of compassion and healing grace combines the themes of religion, war and poetry in a way that is wholly original, and unforgettable. It will resonate with skeptics and believers, be shared and discussed between friends and among families.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It’s tough to do a guy-meets-Jesus book and not be too pious for some and/or too heretical for others. Landis (Longing), a former editor-in-chief at William Morrow, walks a line somewhere between in this ambitious and lyrical story of a young veteran returning to his New Hampshire home from the Iraq War. Army sniper Warren Pease (think of a famous novel by Tolstoy) meets a blue-jeans clad Jesus (“Call me Ray,” Jesus says) on the beach, and Jesus accompanies Pease through a day of returning to important relationships—his father, his girlfriend, his toddler daughter—while reflecting on his dead mother and other past events. There’s lots of gentle humor—Jesus likes burgers and of course he knows everything, including miscellaneous facts about the natural world. Much grimmer, and darker, are episodes set in Iraq of intense violence; they also seem somewhat stagier next to the relative naturalism of the New Hampshire setting, Ray’s supernaturalism notwithstanding. Being about Christ doesn’t automatically make it an edifying Christian novel, and it won’t sit well with some conservative religious readers. But it’s worth a dozen Shacks. (Sept.)
Library Journal
On the day Warren Harlan Pease comes home from the Iraq War, he meets Jesus on the beach in his New Hampshire hometown. Dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, Jesus introduces himself as Ray, and together they visit Warren's friends and family: his girlfriend, Bethie, whom he wishes he had married, and their daughter; his best friend, who now lives with Bethie; his forlorn, neglectful father; and his dead mother. Ray acts as a mediator, smoothing the way for Warren to reconnect with the people he loves. In alternating sections, Warren recounts his experiences as a sniper in Iraq, giving stark descriptions of the bloody horrors and sick ironies of war, which are offset by his biblical observations. VERDICT Although this novel focuses on Christianity, it is not Christian fiction per se. Debut novelist Landis's creation of Jesus as a regular guy with amusing yet wise words and Warren's blend of sensibility and spirituality turn a potentially proselytizing work into a powerful story of one young man's faith, failings, and redemption.—Joy Humphrey, Pepperdine Univ. Law Lib., Malibu, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Jesus Christ heads to New Hampshire to assist an Army sniper home from Iraq in this earnest, sentimental debut. How earnest and sentimental? Look no further than the name of Landis' hero: Warren Pease. This conflicted soul (he's nicknamed War, in case the message isn't clear) spent his tour of duty as a precision killer of "high-value targets." The circumstances of War's return home aren't made explicit until the end, but between the title and his brand-new buddy, it's not hard to tell what's happened. Jesus meets War on the beach and accompanies him as he visits with friends and family. Among them are Bethie, War's longtime girlfriend; their daughter Dodie; Ryan, who stole Bethie's heart after War went overseas; and Bethie's father, a high-school English teacher who was a key inspiration during War's youth. No one questions the presence of Jesus, introduced as War's new friend Ray; Landis makes him a mix of easygoing wingman, comic relief and proof of salvation. Ray miraculously cooks multiple omelets from one egg at Bethie's house; easily banters with bartenders and cops; and offers a sage presence as War wrestles with his lost love and memories of his time in Iraq. The only thing slightly tempering the novel's footprints-in-the-sand piety is Landis' deep knowledge about snipers. He has the technical lingo down, and on occasion he artfully renders the moral negotiations that War has had with himself about being a killer. The closing chapters feature a surprising amount of grit and gore, and there's enough gallows humor and tough talk to give War's experience an air of authenticity. Ultimately, though, the book is an unapologetic act of proselytizing, complete with wince-inducing lineslike, "When it comes to Heaven, we all want to be a High-Value Target."Drab and uninspiring.
From the Publisher
"James Landis' novel The Last Day is haunting and beautiful, rippling with skillfully intertwined themes of faith, love, religion and war.... Reading The Last Day is like sharing [the young narrator's] thoughts, as if the story were a memoir rather than a novel. But it is a novel, and an exceptional one. Landis writes with mastery and grace, weaving together fiction and philosophy with profound beauty. Through an ordinary hero, Landis has crafted an extraordinary literary work."  BookPage September 2009

“It’s tough to do a guy-meets-Jesus book and not be too pious for some and/or too heretical for others. [James] Landis walks a line somewhere between in this ambitious and lyrical story of a young veteran returning to his New Hampshire home from the Iraq War.. . . [THE LAST DAY] is worth a dozen Shacks.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Landis [shows a] deep knowledge about snipers. He has the technical lingo down, and ... he artfully renders the moral negotiations that War has had with himself about being a killer. The closing chapters feature a surprising amount of grit and gore, and there's enough gallows humor and tough talk to give War's experience an air of authenticity." — Kirkus Reviews

“I've always been a huge Kurt Vonnegut fan. Now I'm a huge James Landis fan for many of the same reasons. THE LAST DAY is simply wonderful--witty, profound, and exquisitely written.” Michael Palmer, New York Times Best Selling Author of The Second Opinion andThe First Patient

"A powerful story of one young man's faith, failings, and redemption."  Library Journal

"Brings to mind the best novels on the Vietnam war, Tim O'Brien's books or John Irving's 'A Prayer for Owen Meany'..." The Nashua Telegraph (NH)

“Landis probes the bonds between war and faith in a way that might both shock and comfort anyone who has kept up with the news…. Landis writes sterling dialogue, and the back-and-forth between Pease and Jesus, who asks to be called Ray, is the book’s best feature. Landis’ Jesus — or more accurately, Pease’s Jesus — is childlike in his wonder at the world, and the comfort that Pease takes in his presence is palpable.
What Warren Pease took to war brought him home at peace. Would that all our soldiers who suffer his fate have such an experience.” The Valley News (NH/VT)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586421663
  • Publisher: Steerforth Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,163,426
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

James Landis lives in New Hampshire.
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Reading Group Guide

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR READING-GROUPS

1. What did you think when Warren first meets Ray and is sure he's meeting Jesus? What made him believe Ray was Jesus? Do you?

2. Ray/Jesus tells War, “We all have two birthdays.” What are those birthdays? How do they differ? What are their meanings in our lives?

3. What could make Wesley Pease so suspicious and untrusting of books? What does he mean when he says, “Don’t go into any house that has more books than guns. You could get badly hurt”? And, “an empty bookcase holds more wisdom than all the libraries in the world”?

4. What does Mr. Smith mean when he says, “Words are divine”? How is this statement borne out in this novel?

5. Discuss Warren's feelings about Mr. Smith. If Warren's father had been a different sort of person, would Warren have felt the same way about Mr. Smith?

6. What does War mean when he says,”I had no idea that God loves us so much”? What are your own beliefs on this matter?

7. Should War and Bethie have married? Why didn’t they? Why did War shut himself off from her when he went off to fight in Iraq?

8. Why do you think War’s mother took her own life? Did she realize she would lose him?

9. How does Dodie change War’s attitude toward life on Earth?

10. Are you surprised to learn that Jesus appears in the Koran? What roles does that holy book play in this novel and in the life of War?

11. Why is Ray/Jesus so interested in the natural and physical world, “the things they call the things of this world”? Things like rocks and flowers and birds and stars.

12. How is Wesley Pease’s attitude toward animals reflected in his attitude toward people? How do these attitudes change over the course of the book and why?

13. War asks Jesus if Earth is the only place in the universe with life as we know it. How does Jesus answer? What do you think?

14. Are you comforted by the idea that Jesus might spend your last day on earth with you? Do you think he will?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

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(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 2, 2011

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

    i loved loved loved this book...i was drawn to it immediately at a book store,though i was not familiar with the book nor the author. And I learned that was because this book is a spiritual journey of Jesus and Warren...thru war, thru life. And it gave me hope that we are not just humans who eat,fight, buy, grieve,die but spiritual children of God and Jesus . Super book !

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 14, 2010

    Beautifully written story about a man spending the day with Jesus

    The Last Day by James Landis is the truly rare gem of a life-changing book. It's difficult to write a book in which a contemporary character meets Jesus without writing cheesy sentimentality or preachy discourses on faith. Landis' stunningly beautiful novel avoids all of those traps. Warren "War" Pease, a twenty-year-old soldier serving in Iraq meets up with Jesus, who calls himself Ray, on a mysterious visit to his hometown in New Hampshire. War meets up with Bethie, the mother of his daughter, Dodie, who he loved desperately, but could never let her into his heart; his father, a veterinarian with a unusual view of religion and guns; and his best friend Ryan, who has stepped into Bethie and Dodie's lives to fill the void he left when he went to Iraq. War jumps around in narration between his experiences in Baghdad and encountering the ones he left behind. Landis is a lyrical storyteller who has labored over each and every sentence, constructing them carefully for maximum power and emotion. His descriptions of the paranoia and accompanying recklessness of young soldiers are brilliant. War is a thoughtful young man who takes his job as sniper very seriously, and readers will find themselves pulled into his life. Ray and War's repartee keeps the book from becoming gloomy or dark. Ray keeps the reader's and War's focus right where it needs to be: on Him. In the beginning of the book, I was mentally fighting the obvious ending, but by the end, Landis' writing makes War's end a thing of beauty and grace. I know it's early in the year, but I am certain that this will make my top ten list of 2010.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 16, 2009

    Meherazad's Quality Rating

    I like the original voice of this author very very much. Especially appealing is the main character. I like to read first time writers occasionally as I am one myself. I hope this writer keeps on writing and publishing as I want to keep up with him.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 3, 2010

    The Last Day - A Very Dark Book

    I found The Last Day to initially be interesting but as I progressed further into it I found that I had already surmised the plot and it's ending. As a Vietnam Vet I found the story line to be dark and almost completely without humor, but the idea that Jesus would personally shepard War around to visit everyone important to him one last time was interesting. I could not in good faith recommend this book to any Vet (Vietnam, either Iraq Wars nor the Afganistan War).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2011

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