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In Country: a novel Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (August 2, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060835176
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060835170
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

YA Sam, 17, is obsessed with the Vietnam War and the effect it has had on her lifelosing a father she never knew and now living with Uncle Emmett, who seems to be suffering from the effects of Agent Orange. In her own forthright way, she tries to sort out why and how Vietnam has altered the lives of the vets of Hopewell, Kentucky. Her untempered curiosity and imagination sprint off in all directions as she examines closely the often undiscussed, but always noticed, aspects of daily life. In this coming-of-age novel, Sam ponders many problems, among them Emmett's crusty, salve-covered pimples, veteran Tom's inability to have an erection and her good friend Dawn's pregnancy. Although Sam lives in a disheveled, tawdry house, she brings a freshness of spirit to the way she scrutinizes and revels in life. When she wants to understand living conditions in the Vietnam jungles, she decides she has to experience it, so spends the night beside a local swamp. A harshly realistic, well-written look at the Vietnam War as well as the story of a young woman maturing. Pam Spencer, Mount Vernon High School Library, Fairfax, Va.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Sam Hughes, whose father was killed in Vietnam, lives in rural Kentucky with her uncle Emmett, a veteran whom she suspects is suffering from exposure to Agent Orange. Sam is a typical teenager, trying to choose a college, anticipating a new job at the local Burger Boy, sharing intimacies with her friend Dawn, breaking up with her high school boyfriend, and dealing with her feelings for Tom, one of Emmett's buddies. Sam feels that her life is bound to the war in Vietnam and becomes obsessed with the idea because of the reluctance of her family and Tom to talk about it. Her father's diary finally provides the insight she seeksinsight she cannot accept until she has visited the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. In Country is both a powerful and touching novel of America that analyzes the impact of the 1960s on the culture of the 1980s and a beautiful portrayal of an often forgotten area of the country. Essential for adult and YA collections. Thomas L. Kilpatrick, Southern Illinois Univ. at Carbondale Lib.
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The book is an easy read.
Zach Goldfarb
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for some easy to read material or for a book to laugh at.
Kate
It's not flawed, it's inept in story , characters, character development, pacing, everything.
Fillyjonk

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 27, 1998
Format: Paperback
People who read for plot only, as have, apparently, some of the previous reviewers, are missing many other elements of the novel, any novel. Bobbie Ann Mason often writes about the Southern female and her transformation through discovery. Exactly what that woman discovers changes from story to story, but Sam is definitely one of Mason's dynamic Southern females. I am sorry, too, that some reviewers don't seem to appreciate Mason's use of contextual details to provide a landscape against which these transformations take place. I just really appreciate her willingness to refer to anything from Pop Tarts to Avon Products. That's the environment within which many of us do experience our lives. And Emmett? He's my uncle ... or my cousin . . . or my brother . . .
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Shelley R. Hughes on May 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
After reading numerous reviews that refer to this book as "boring," I felt I needed to speak up against some of the semi-literate reviewers.

"In Country" is not an action novel. It's not meant to be a moral guide to living as a teenager. It's more than that, a complex, beautiful novel with multiple threads: about growing up, idenitity, place, war, and legacy. Mason is excellent at capturing the time and place of Western Kentucky; even though the town is never named, I'm certain she's writing about Mayfield, near where my husband grew up.

If you can't pass high school English, you probably won't enjoy "In Country." If you can appreciate a complex, emotional novel, one that makes you think, then this book is a modern classic.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 14, 1997
Format: Paperback
"In Country" is several books at once: among them,
a chronicle of a significant era in American history, a
rumination on the evaporation of American regionalism,
and a standard coming of age novel. The story revolves
around Samantha Hughes,unusually bright and aware
for a teenager growing up in a western Kentucky backwater
(probably not unlike Bobbie Ann Mason herself). Born in
1966, Sam's father died in Vietnam before she could meet
him. When she turns 18, it occurs to her that
no one in the family has ever really told her anything
about him -- like American society, which wanted to forget
about the dirty little war in southeast Asia, her family
had more or less swept him under the rug. But Sam
decides to go on her own journey to discover who
her dad was, and what that senseless conflict might have
been about.On her way, Mason weaves a brilliant tapestry of American
culture in the mid-1980s, in which cable television and
the proliferation of gigantic shopping malls have flattened
out distictions between regions and the peculiar quality
of rural existence. At the climax of the story, Sam travels
to Washington with her beloved uncle and her paternal
grandmother to visit the Vietnam memorial; when she finds
her own name inscribed on the wall, it hammers home the
message that the Vietnam experience is about all of us. "In
Country" may have less impact now than before it was
published; subsequently, many works of popular culture (the
films "Platoon" and "Casualties of War" as well as the
television series "China Beach") have carried similar
messages. But few have done so as elegantly and compellingly
as this book.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
"In Country," by Bobbie Anne Mason is a great story about a girl that lost her father in the Vietnam War. She lived a wild life without a father. Her mother living nearby, but her, in her late teens, lives with her uncle. She has no discipline, yet gets along well. Her main strugle throughout the book is finding out what Vietnam was really like. She also wants to know what her father was like, since she never even met him. Her uncle, was in the war, but he made it home alive. Sam, the young girl, is worried about her uncle, scared that he has Agent Orange. All she has is him, and she doesn't want to lose him to the war too. All of this takes place in the early 80's. She is dealing with the past, in the future. Some things just never go away. There is so much more to this book, and if you love to read books about Vietnam or even just like to read, then I would recomend this story. It's not too long, and wouldn't take up too much time. Sometimes the book moves rather slowly, and you must be patient with it. The main theme from the book is that things in the past, really do still effect us today.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Privacy, Please on December 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
One reason I don't read a lot of fiction is that too many books are trying very hard to "tell a story". I read this book over 20 years ago and it has stayed with me all that time largely because it's such a quiet, realistic portrayal of everyday life in the 80s. Perhaps if you didn't live through that era, you'll have a harder time understanding just how buried the Vietnam War had been as a subject, all through the 70s and into the 80s - roughly the lifespan of the 17-year-old main character, Sam. But that's how it was. People didn't talk much about it. So Sam's quest to find out about her daddy - at about the age when a lot of kids get more curious about their "roots" - by talking to her relatives, and other veterans, seems very realistic. Sam's daily life is in that sort of suspended state between high school graduation and facing the wider world by going off to college, and has nothing much happening except watching TV, going running, working at a fast-food place, and hanging out with her friends - which is also very realistic. It's not terribly exciting, but if it was, then Sam wouldn't have so much time or motivation to think about her lost daddy.

There are a lot of telling little details included, such as the watching of the TV show "MASH" and relating it to Vietnam, even though it's really set in the earlier Korean War. Many people watched MASH on TV either remembering their own Vietnam service, or not realizing that it wasn't actually set in Vietnam. Sam smokes pot when it's available, as many older working-class teens did in those days (and likely still do) - big deal. She is getting bored with her high school basketball-star boyfriend who, now that high school is over, looks like much less of a catch since he doesn't seem to know what to do with his life.
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