In the summer of 1984, the war in Vietnam came home to Sam Hughes, whose father was killed there before she was born. The soldier-boy in the picture never changed. In a way that made him dependable. But he seemed so innocent. "Astronauts have been to the moon," she blurted out to the picture. "You missed Watergate. I was in the second grade."
She stared at the picture, squinting her eyes, as if she expected it to come to life. But Dwayne had died with his secrets. Emmett was walking around with his. Anyone who survived Vietnam seemed to regard it as something personal and embarrassing. Granddad had said they were embarrassed that they were still alive. "I guess you're not embarrassed," she said to the picture.
The book, which takes place in western Kentucky, concerns a teenage girl's questions about the war in Vietnam, where her father died and her uncle served. Unlike many serious works of literature, which generally avoid current events because they will soon be outdated, the novel has constant cultural references that were fresh when it was published in 1984. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, for instance, which is central to the story, had been dedicated as recently as 1982, and the Bruce Springsteen album that is quoted in the epigram and mentioned frequently thereafter was released in 1984.
This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.