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Return to Freedom Paperback – November 7, 2012
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
About the Author
Alec Clayton was born in Tupelo, Mississippi and grew up in Tupelo and Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He spent much of his youth fishing the bayous of South Mississippi where this story is set. He earned a BFA in drawing and painting from the University of Southern Mississippi and an MA in drawing and painting from East Tennessee State University. Alec lives with his wife, Gabi, in Olympia, Washington where he is a freelance art and theater writer, novelist, retired painter, and an anti-war and pro-LGBTQ rights activist. Alec Clayton Art and Writing http://www.alecclayton.com South Sound Arts Etc. http://alecclayton.blogspot.com/
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Top customer reviews
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There's the movie idol coming home for a break from the hurly burly of Hollywood, the Preacher with a Past who runs a very successful group for the town's teens, a coffee shop owner who learns a lot about her sexuality, a traveler in a trailer who changes her life, a melodramatic teenager, a grieving family with an alcoholic mother, and a parade of other unique individuals.
Characters are well drawn and well fleshed out so that you really get to know them, though there are so many of them you sometimes feel like you need a cast of characters to refer to. As in Lake Woebegone, a lot of the action takes place at the town coffee shop, a good place to gossip about your neighbors. The Big Scandal doesn't take place until about 3/4 of the way through the book and while riveting, doesn't last long, but changes everyone involved.
Clayton adroitly portrays the inner thoughts of central characters Bitsey and Malcolm, and I especially liked his treatment of the poor yet wise middle-aged mother Bitsey. It's not easy for a male author to pull off a female character with this level of insight, and I credit Clayton's long marriage for giving him some of this insight.
The treatment of Malcolm is equally satisfying, although I found the way Justin (their son) dies to be less dramatic than it should have been: in fact, I almost missed the death, and had to go back to find it. In the end, this death reverberates in interesting ways through the novel, and only the initial moment threw me.
Clayton's treatment of Sonny Staples and Beulah Booker Taylor is a little less satisfying for me, especially since Beulah's orientation and her struggle with it is obvious to the reader far before Beulah herself owns up.
However, Clayton wraps up the complicated threads of the various stories with a sure hand. Clayton has mastered the task of getting inside his characters' heads: "Return to Freedom" could use a bit more plot momentum, and structural editing to hone the tale to a tighter storyline, but overall it is a very satisfying read.