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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Readers Slip into Another Time and Place, June 27, 2011
This review is from: The Returning (Hardcover)
When Cam Attling returns from war 12 years later, he realizes he no longer fits in with his town. Cam is the only soldier from Kayforl to come back, and the villagers resent him. Even though he lost his arm during battle, they are angry that he survived while the others died. They ask him to tell them what happened to their relatives, but Cam doesn't want to talk about the war. He would rather forget all about it.

Before Cam left, he was betrothed to Graceful Fenister, but her father breaks these ties because he wants his daughter to marry better. Graceful is crushed and wonders: If Cam Attling is the best the village has to offer, then who will I end up with? She can't help but think about what her future holds.

Meanwhile, Cam's own father won't let him help on the farm. A frustrated Cam feels like he's rotting away with no work to do. Thinking he doesn't belong in Kayforl anymore, he goes back to where his enemy lives. He seeks answers from the lord who maimed him, healed him and cared for him, wanting to know why his life was spared.

In a way, all of the characters live with the enemy. While language and cultures are different, they adapt. Lord Gyaar and Graceful unite two families from each warring side --- the Uplanders and the Downlanders. Cam becomes friends with the very person who severed his arm. He comments that his own people, the Downlanders, didn't show him the mercy that Lord Gyaar did.

Christine Hinwood has written a thought-provoking novel about the survivors of war. Her debut examines the relationships of families, the emotional displacement of surviving, and finding love in a changed world. When lives are altered after war, a community has to face those changes. Hinwood lets readers slip into another time and place, as the issue of belonging anchors us to the characters.

--- Reviewed by Kathleen M. Purcell
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