Picador Release Date 11th January 2018
Having enjoyed The Silver Linings Playbook some years ago I was delighted to have the opportunity to read this book prior to its release.
When Sixty-eight-year-old Vietnam War veteran David Granger wakes up from emergency surgery, he finds himself repeating a name: Clayton Fire Bear, a soldier form whom he stole something long ago. And now, David knows he must make amends. It might be the only way to find happiness in a world increasingly at odds with the one he served to protect, and it might also help him recover from the loss of the wife he grieves for every day.
Motivated by his adoring young granddaughter, Ella, David sets out to confront his past in order to salvage his present. Grumpy and argumentative he may be, but ultimately The Reason You’re Alive challenges us to look beyond our own prejudices and search for the good in others.
Very different to The Silver Linings Playbook, David Granger, strong minded and outspoken tells it how it is. Clearly affected by the traumas associated with serving in Vietnam, David is suspicious, bordering on paranoid. Recovering from brain surgery David is forced to temporarily live with his son and in doing so both men learn new things about each other.
Being the most politically uncorrect man ever David and his son, through their relationship reveal touchingly that it is not always about saying the correct thing, actions speak louder than words. This is a story about growth and enlightenment, it is about grief and loss, forgiveness and restoration. Written in the first person narrative, David, in his cantankerous manner tells his life stories, his time in Vietnam, his wife and child, his friendships and working life. Having led a colourful life, these stories are vivid and through his voice David comes alive to the reader, I can still hear and picture him! Touching on Mental Illness, in terms of David’s own description of Vietnam Vets being ‘legally insane’, despite his nuances David has a warm circle of friends who see past his racist and homophobic language to the warmth of the person, telling it how it is, but accepting everyone as they are.
‘Dark, Funny, And Surprisingly Tender’ Publishers Weekly
At under 250 pages this was a quick and entertaining read with a clear message – actions not words. The book is touching and I found myself warming to David as he struggled in the modern world, with his sad and troubling backstory. The end of the story with Clayton Fire Bear bought tears to my eyes as David in returning what he had stolen, recovers something so much more precious.
A great read, recommended by me, a book which proved to be both thought provoking and entertaining in equal measures.
Thank you to Picador Books and Grace Harrison for my copy of this book