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Rebel Powers by Richard Bausch

Rebel Powers

by Richard Bausch

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Richard Bausch's REBEL POWERS is novel that builds slowly but surely with a tense family dynamic which seizes you early on and will keep you reading late into the night. Or at least that was how it affected me. The Boudreauxs are an Air Force family who fall on hard times, father Daniel, a decorated 20-year veteran who returned from an ordeal as a POW in Vietnam deeply changed. Feeling his wife's affections slipping away, he makes some bad decisions, writes some bad checks, and ends up with a dishonorable discharge and is sent off to hard labor in a federal prison in remote north east Wyoming. And no, these are not spoilers. You learn all this very early in the book. The story is set in the late sixties against the backdrop of war protests, riots and the RFK and MLK assassinations. Daniel's family follow him all the way across the country from Virginia to settle in a boarding house in Wilson's Creek, Wyoming, and await his release. On the train they meet the mysterious and beautiful Penny, who will figure deeply into the further dissolution this unlucky family. Seventeen year-old Thomas falls under the spell of this young woman, who is flawed both physically and psychically. The plot thickens and quickens at a pace that is nothing less than perfect. Thomas, who is the narrator of the tale, telling it decades later, is forced to grow up quickly, making for a most unique coming-of-age story.

This is a hell of a good book. It brought to mind another more recent novel about a military family in the Vietnam era, Tim Farrington's wonderful LIZZIE'S WAR. But Bausch's book is its own kind of animal. I've known of Bausch's work for many years, but this is the first of his many books I have read. I'm glad I did, and you can bet it will not be the last. This guy knows how to tell a story, and creates characters so real you'll begin to think you know them from another life. Very highly recommended. ( )
  TimBazzett | May 9, 2013 |
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