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5.0 out of 5 stars A Journal For Jordan Inspirational And Heartwarming, December 10, 2009
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This review is from: A Journal for Jordan: A Story of Love and Honor (Paperback)
A Journal for Jordan
A Story of Love and Honor
Random House
Written by Dana Canedy
Available in Hardcover and Paperback

In 2005, First Sergeant Charles Monroe King began to write what would become a two-hundred-page journal for his son in case he did not make it home from the war in Iraq. Charles King, forty-eight, was killed on October 14, 2006, when an improvised explosive device detonated under his Humvee on an isolated road near Baghdad. His son, Jordan, was seven months old.

A Journal for Jordan is a mother's LETTER to her son-fierce in its honesty-about the father he lost before he could even speak. It is also a father's advice and prayers for the son he will never know.

He finished the journal two months before his death while home on a two-week leave, so intoxicated with love for his infant son that he barely slept.
Finally, this is the story of Dana and Charles together-two seemingly mismatched souls who loved each other deeply. She was a Pulitzer Prize--winning editor for the New York Times who struggled with her weight. He was a decorated military officer with a sculpted body who got his news from television. She was impatient, brash, and cynical about love. He was excruciatingly shy and stubborn, and put his military service before anything else. In these pages, we relive with Dana the slow unfolding of their love, their decision to become a family, the chilling news that Charles has been deployed to Iraq, and the birth of their son.

In perhaps the most wrenching chapter in the book, Dana recounts her search for answers about Charles's death. Unsatisfied with the army's official version of what happened and determined to uncover the truth, she pored over summaries of battalion operations reports and drew on her well-honed reporting skills to interview the men who were with Charles on his last convoy, his commanding officers, and other key individuals. In the end, she arrived at an account of Charles's death-and his last days in his battalion-that was more difficult to face than the story she had been told, but that affirmed the decency and courage of this warrior and father.

A Journal for Jordan is a tender introduction, a loving good-bye, a reporter's inquiry into her soldier's life, and a heartrending reminder of the human cost of war.

"Full of wonderful treasures offered by a unique and spirited father...It is written with seren grace: part memoir, part love story, all heart."James McBride, author of THE COLOR OF WATER


What impresses me about this book is the candor of the author, about herself and her man. Her determination to create a clear picture of the man she loved and their relationship, so her son would have a way to know him. When we lose someone so early, and in such a way, it's all too easy to tag him as a hero, and sanitize his life. Make him larger than life; even posthumously award him sainthood, in our hearts and minds. Dana does not.

What emerges from these pages captures the essence of Charles King. He is not just a soldier or the man she loved. He was multifaceted and more complex. Charles was stubborn, had procrastination down to an art, a need for things to be done just so. I see a man who could brood and worry. I meet an imposing man with a strong sense of duty and honor, which came above all else in his life. I can see his shyness, his loving heart, and sense of humor, his dedication to doing what was right, regardless of what others thought of those decisions. The strong faith in God that guided him in his life. The deep love he had for his family.

Through Dana's eyes I met the sexy, sensual man, her lover. I met the warrior, tough and strong, highly decorated, intensely loyal and deeply caring for the men placed in his care. I saw this fierce warrior, sculpted in body and incredibly strong hold his tiny child with such tenderness and love. He was a man who took his role as a father seriously, providing for his children. He took the time during the lonely nights in Iraq to give guidance and direction for his son through a journal while hoping it would never be necessary for his son to see it--because he wanted to be there in person to guide him and watch him grow.

Charles was so real to me, even knowing he died, my heart hurt for Dana when I read the part where she was told. Tears came to my eyes more than once during this book, but so did laughter. Only a good writer can take someone totally unknown to you and paint such a clear picture of him or her it touches your heart.

Grief is a funny thing. I've lost people very dear to me both family and friends everyone grieves differently. I have to make sense of it to heal to get past the anguish. Dana did the same. But what made an impact on me was the generosity of Dana Canedy. She shared the man she loved with us and with her son. She's reached out to others who have suffered and are still suffering.

I loved the book. It's well written and easy to read. Journal has it sad parts, true, but really it's the story of family.

And the joy of love.
* * *

I had the chance to interview Dana Canedy, November 27, 2009. If you'd like to see what she had to say, [...]
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