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Big Diehl by George Seaton
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Big Diehl: The Road Home... started as a short story in "Big Diehl." Its now grown in to a full fledged novel with a bit of a whodunit thrown in. I don't think you need to read the former since the majority of the short is contained within the novel. (Not that it's not a great read.)

Nutshell: This story is about looking towards the future, while at the same time letting go of a hurtful past.

So many great characters in this book. 4.5 stars.

( )
  Penny01 | Feb 1, 2014 |
I remember with pleasure the novella with the same character, Big Diehl, a barely legal boy who searched in the Army a way out his nightmare but also the family he was missing. Oddity of life was that leading off to a life in the Army, he also find another way, an isolated ranch owned by a lesbian couple, Chris and Maddie, who made her life to offer shelter to all these young boys and girls who are misfit of society. But for Big it was too late, or maybe too soon, he needed to go out and be in the Army, and prove to himself that he has a reason to be in this world.

Diehl left home and his first love, Joe, a same age kid who had not the courage to explore possibilities, as Diehl did. Maybe if Joe was with him, Diehl would have not joined the Army, to not leave Joe alone. But he had no bonds to stop him; during his life in the Army, Diehl met other boys, to his eyes they were replica of Joe, and he poured in them all the love he had for Joe and was not able to express. In reality, I think all these boys were replica of Diehl himself, and he loved them all since he wanted to be love only by one, Joe.

In the previous novella, I was quite taken aback by the fact that Diehl, even if he has clearly a good man waiting for him at home, Tony, another “host” of Maddie and Chris’s ranch, was not able to love him back as Tony deserved. Diehl is not a don juan, he doesn’t love them all since he is not able to feel real love; I think he is simply already taken, he is not free to be the right one for them, since he is already “promised” to Joe, even if he believes Joe doesn’t want him back.

When Diehl gets out of the Army, before heading back to the ranch, he decides to visit his father, to resolve a question that influenced all his life; he is not planning, or hoping, to meet Joe, and when it happens, it’s not with an angry disposition. Diehl doesn’t blame Joe for anything, he thinks to understand him and his reasons, and in any case, Diehl loves Joe, and if you love someone, you have to forgive him everything. So, when Diehl meets again Joe, it’s a good and sweet encounter, there are no recriminations or regrets, and they are able to clear things between them without losing other time, thank to Diehl’s good heart.

It’s strange, Diehl is so mature and quiet that he seems older and wiser than how he really is. He calls the boys he met during his life “kids”, like they are younger and in need of protection, and instead Diehl is this old man with all past experience to teach him lessons. And instead Diehl is barely old than them, 24 years old is still really young. It’s not age who taught him a lesson, it was life, a life someone his age should have not known. Despite the sadness to know that someone stole Diehl’s youth, there is at least the hope that he has still time, that he can have 50 or 60 or 70 years of happiness ahead of him, that when he will finally set somewhere, with the man of his dreams, he will have time to enjoy his life, and to replace bad memories with good ones.

Big Diehl is not a thriller or a adventure packed plot; it’s more a peaceful paced plot, while reading it you have the feeling of hot and still summer afternoons, of being able to listen to the nature sounds since there are no artificial sounds to cover them.

  elisa.rolle | Jul 11, 2010 |
Big Diehl is probably the story of many soldiers who searched a family in the Army since they didn’t feel to have one at home. They are so focused in their search that sometime they don’t realize that there could be a family even out of the Army. The problem with Diehl is that he is not at peace with himself and so he is not able to find only a place, and only a man, to love. Diehl loves them all, he is able to find the lonely souls like himself, and for a little bit, they share the loneliness, but the loneliness never leaves them. Joe, Tony, Denman, Michael, all of them are soul mates, all of the could have been the right man, but there is always something, when Diehl is there in the moment when he has to grab the life at full hand, he goes away, always thinking that it’s not time, always having the previous man in mind, and believing that the present one is not the right one. Diehl has to loose all of them to understand that he has beforehand to forgive himself and the man who made him like that to maybe have a chance at happiness. Big Diehl is not a love story, it’s a self-discovery journey, but the love story, and the end of the journey, can be in the future of Diehl, only now it’s not yet the moment.

  elisa.rolle | Dec 23, 2009 |
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Big Diehl understood his nature, early-on. Raised as a cowkid on a ranch in northeastern Colorado, Diehl yearned for something more, something encompassing the truth of himself. He became a soldier. Served honorably in Iraq. Found precious love along the way. Yearned to return to Wyoming where his future awaited, where an unfinished reckoning beckoned.
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