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Times To Try The Soul Of Man Paperback – April 6, 2015
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
About the Author
Kenneth Weene is a peaceful man, a psychologist and author by inclination. However, when confronted by the evils of this world, he arms himself with the best weapon at his disposal, the written word. Ken is also author of Widow’s Walk and Memoirs From the Asylum, both published by All Things That Matter Press.
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When looking inside of yourself you often see something different than what the world sees outside. Learning who you are and hoping to find a place within this complex world takes time, energy and critical thinking. One young freelance reporter seems to be floundering, unsure of his goals at times, finds himself in many tenuous situations and often walks away from people feeling they cannot help him achieve whatever goals he’s set out for himself at a particular time.
Freedom of press is every reporter’s right and the right of every American except for those working for a high school newspaper. Told that the topics he wanted to write about were inappropriate and not acceptable this young man decided to take a real stand. The end result was he was thrown off the paper. So, much for expressing your opinion. But, this did not stop him from pursuing his goal, getting the funds from his father to go to school and graduate with a journalism degree. Nick is frivolous in many ways and using women to appease his anger, frustrations and desires seemed to be the way he found acceptance and understanding from others.
From Michelle, Melinda, Sue and many others in no particular order he used them to fulfilled his needs and at times although reflecting on his actions he discounted the fact that maybe he might be hurting not only them but himself. Going to Peru and eye opening as a group of Israel men took him under their wing and he learned more than just the definition of trust and loyalty but survival skills too. Not realizing whom these men were might have been okay at first but a harsh awakening let him know they were Mossad.
Living in a place called Alphabet City Nick would become involved writing a story to help save the City Center. Although his editor refused to give him anything but fluff pieces for this local magazine dealing with hometown news, Nick risks it all to help the man who gave up his life for his community. Getting involved with the center helped him meet Melinda. Learning more about the politics and who was involved and behind the sale of the center, those who could pull strings quietly and not be seen, would place him in danger. Trying to learn the real identity of a man named Hunter, who supposedly bought the center and had the highest bid, would endanger more than one life and cause someone close to him to be targeted.
Government corruption, police on the take, a mayor who was dishonest, women that flocked to him when he cried or needed help, and one young man that would risk it all for a friend named Jose. But, when the end result if revealed would Nick back off? With the help of Mo, his contact from the Mossad would he be protected and safe? When things came to a boil the Feds came in, took away the Latins and their families and it ended the safety net of the community and the violence was just starting.
When someone’s life is taken why does Nick continue on as threats come his way and his life might be in danger. But, his goal is to get that one story that would place him above the others but what happens is disheartening as politics wins, corruption prevails and someone close to him just might be the one who doesn’t want the answers revealed. As the high rises go up and someone leaks that the structure is unsound will the entire project fail or will they build it anyway? The Mayor, Bumaste, the contractors in Alphabet City and the cops are all in on the take and one man is sacrificed, as a project must be completed at all costs. But, when Jose’s wife approaches Nick and challenges him to find the answers needed will he step up? With the help of Helen his trusted as he called her second wife in the office, will she and Nick prevail? A community torn apart and seven men wrongly accused because the police needed scapegoats and those higher up did not care about these men. The end result would put more people in danger, would prove what Nick was willing to do to help others and possibly estrange him from some he thought were his friends.
A tape that was sent as a warning. But, how did they know? Author Kenneth Weene takes us inside the mind of a young man so tormented, twisted and unsure of himself at times that he resorts to prowling at night, drugs, women that he pays for and living scared, confused and never really knowing just who or what he is or wants. Why was the Mossad in New York? What and who were they following and why? Flashing back to his childhood when his mother told him she was leaving and never coming back. Holding back the tears so she would not see him upset and reminding himself that she often found herself in the hospital but her prime concern was someone in her life and her children did not fit in at all times. One woman would take him in stride, possibly see some good in him and maybe they would embark on a life together. But, can Nick change? Will drugs and beer rule his life and be the only way he can function? Where does he wind up at the end? Why does his father always come through for him?
An ending that will remind everyone how vulnerable we are to attack and that your government and all of us must remain vigilant as a terrorist attack can take place and the horror of 9/11 comes through with an explosive and volatile ending provided by our author reminding us that although this is fiction of what he wrote was based on a real murder in Alphabet City, a trip to Machu Picchu, a Mossad Connection and the reality of September 11th. One young reporter, one man who fights for what he believes one man who found that it might be time to Try and Find the Soul of Man or himself. An interesting character that many can relate to and some might find hard to understand at times. With a connection made at the end that might change it all for him author Kenneth Weene hopes that readers will understand where Nick finally winds up and if there is any chance of hope in his life.
A definite must read.
We first meet Nick (the story’s narrator), a would-be journalist living in an area of Manhattan where people are losing their homes to the demolition ball. Meeting Jose Figures, the local hero and director of the neighborhood Latino Community Center, fascinates our protagonist/narrator and makes him think reporting Jose’s story could mean a Pulitzer in his future.
During the previous year of Nick’s life, he’d wandered around South America, meeting larger-than-life people like the Mossad guys who would play some part in the terror to come. He also met several women who all played a more immediate and temporary part in Nick’s life.
Along with a behind the scenes peek at government corruption and a revisit to 9/11, this is Nick’s search for his life’s purpose. His journey got a boost when this self-centered young man who hadn’t gotten past the damage done by self-centered parents heard ”the voice of God.” It happended when he was backpacking to Machu Picchu. Wandering away from the path and his traveling companions, he camp upon a circle of people listening in awe to an old man playing a pan flute. The next thing Nick knew, he was being revived and led back to camp by his Mossad friend, Mo. While retelling the experience, Mo informed him that those who heard the Voice are given great responsibility. Much later, when the initial horror of 9/11 was past and Nick had left Manhattan, he was awakened one night by the same music. It came to him then that he had been a witness to much of what led up to 9/11, and he knew what he had to do. His responsibiliy was to bear witness—to document the story.
Even though the story bounces between Nick’s current situation, his troubled childhood and the Peru trip, the tension is not diminished. As readers we are driven to discover: What part does the forced closing of the Latino Center play in 9/11? What did Nick unwittingly discover while doing detective work for Mo? And why had Mo stayed protectively near until a conspiracy theory was turning into reality just about where Nick stood? Answers to these questions separate Weene’s novel from those who don’t quite achieve the status of a great read.
Command of language: 5 stars
Varied sentence structure; word choices that paint vivid pictures; realistic dialogue.
Characterization: 4.5 stars
The narrator is the one main character. Although well developed, Nick is not a character I could relate to, even after he reformed. (Settling down with a former prostitute seemed unrealistic—she just didn’t come across as a “pretty woman.”) The bad and good guys were [intentionally] undistinguishable except for Jose, clearly a good guy, but his grating habit of saying, “I gotta tell ya,” detracted from his charisma. Most of the female characters seemed to be little more than props.
The plot displayed an extremely creative mind. There were enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing to the end…and possibly beyond.
Content suitable to diverse audience(s): 4 stars
This one seems to be written more for male readers (or at least less targeted to women beyond the young adult range). The reason I say this is the ongoing discussion of the male protagonist’s focus on the sexual act as the panacea for all his problems and a drug for every attack of anxiety became slightly offensive to this mature female reader.
Connection (and application) to current issues: 5 stars
The timing for this story is excellent; the frequency of terrorist acts is growing. These are indeed “the times to try the soul of man.” We can’t always tell which side our acquaintances are on, making it more important than ever to not be persuaded by shallow rhetoric but to focus on honorable deeds. And above all, we must not ignore acts of injustice; instead, it is our responsibility to stand with those who are mistreated. If we don’t, they may become the enemy who demolishes our neighborhood centers and destabilizes our future.
Nick, the narrator of the novel, has a few redeeming qualities. He's loyal and respects people with ethics, such as Jose Figurés, the president of the Lower East Side Latino Community Center. But Nick has some real issues. He has a lack of respect for women that verges on misogyny. He's drawn to them when masturbation “is just not enough” and his private nickname for the woman he seems to like the most is “Lard-Ass.” He's a reporter for a local newspaper, but hates his job and doesn't respect his boss (a woman of course). He longs for top level recognition (a Pulitzer) but doesn't like the process of writing. The book contains flashbacks to a horrible upbringing that explains some of his problems, but most seem to come from a lack of maturity.
Despite all of Nick's internal problems, the most serious issues he faces have to do with the corrupt and powerful people whose toes he has stepped on. Fortunately, he receives some help with these from Mo, a friend in the Mossad (Israel's version of the CIA). Espionage is what keeps the pages turning, but the best books are about characters who change and in this one we get to watch Nick grow. He has major problems and we're never sure how many of them he'll solve. That's what makes the book a great read.
Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions
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