Set against the closing years of the Cold War, Constance Squires's debut novel introduces the family of Army Major Collins, as told through the eyes of Lucinda Collins-the vibrant, headstrong eldest daughter. Living on a military base, Lucinda feels displaced and isolated. Over time she finds her own tribe through rock and roll, and meets fellow Army brats, GIs, a ghost, and Syd, who knows how it goes. But after her father's final shocking betrayal, the only world she's ever believed in falls in like the Berlin Wall, leaving Lucinda to chart a new path.
In spare, heart-wrenchingly beautiful prose, Squires offers us a rare glimpse into the experiences and sacrifices of an American military family. Along the Watchtower is a powerful story that reveals what it really means to fight for the things we believe in and to defend the ones we love.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
What People are Saying About This
“While those interested in military life will be drawn to this book, readers of all backgrounds and of many age groups will feel a strong connection to these characters. This is a superbly told coming-of-age story.”—World Literature Today
Reading Group Guide
When thirteen-year-old Lucinda Collins lands at the U.S. military base in Grafenwoehr, West Germany, in 1983, she already knows the drill: setting up new family quarters; easing turbulence between her parents; meeting her fellow Army brats but trying to remain at arms length, knowing she'll likely part from friends sooner rather than later. The nomadic Army life is all she knows, yet she longs for a place to which she can tether her memories, a place to truly call home.
During his West German tour of duty, the past haunts Lucinda's father, Major Jack Collins, while Lucinda's mother, Faye, perceptibly grows tired of Army life and the difficulties with her husband. As the family fractures, rock and roll becomes Lucinda's consolation and she begins to chart her own path to adulthood and understanding amidst disappointments and struggle.
Set against the comings and goings of military friends, parents, lovers, and ghosts, Along the Watchtower is the story of a girl searching for permanent belonging in an ever-shifting world.
ABOUT CONSTANCE SQUIRES
Constance Squires is an Army brat born at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Her fiction has appeared in many notable publications including The Atlantic Monthly, The Dublin Quarterly, and The Arkansas Review, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best New American Voices. Among her awards are: the 2007 Matt Clark Prize for Fiction by the New Delta Review, the 2004 Bob Shacochis Award for the Short Story, and The Briar Cliff Review 2004 Fiction Award. She holds a Ph.D. in English from Oklahoma State University and is the director of the MFA program in Creative Writing at the University of Central Oklahoma. She lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and daughter.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I got to read this book as a book store sample and the story really affected me. I wondered if I could have mustered the self-sufficiency that the main character, Lucinda, needed to propel her through life. She has to fight for everything she needs: mentally, emotionally and sometimes practically in her transient life as an "army brat". Her father's narcissism and mother's passivity leave her to untangle all the tough experiences of a difficult adolescence on her own. The one time anyone gives her guidance it's a "must listen to" list of rock songs from a young soldier on base, and this music becomes a kind of touchstone for her. It's a lonely climb to adulthood but Lucinda is a tough girl I really admired. By the end of the book she finally manages to balance out when to fight back and when to just accept. And isn't that exactly what we all need to learn? I loved this book. I think it would be great for a book club discussion because there are so many moments in the book that made me wonder how I would have reacted in the same place. I mostly read YA and this is definitely literary fiction, but I was completely engrossed in it. So I think it would be a good read for someone looking for more substance in a coming of age story than typical YA novels. The main character is a perfect mix of what I could relate to and what I wish I could have been.