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Review: Anchor & Flares

September 22, 2015

Anchors & Flares

When Kate Braestrup‘s oldest son was a junior in high school he announced his intention to join the military.  She struggled with his decision – her father was a Marine and she wasn’t sure she wanted the same life for her son.

“I’m not a pacifist,” I explained to the drill instructor as the informational meeting broke up. “And my father was a Marine. But my son . . .”

He smiled pleasantly at me

“You see,” I said helplessly, “Zach is a very special boy.”

To his credit, the drill instructor did not laugh. Nor did he say what was true, which is that the United States Marine Corps, and indeed the whole of the U. S. Military, is chock-full of very special boys and girls.

She was going through what many parents must – she wasn’t against it in theory, but the thought of her loving young son going off to war was terrifying to her.  Braestrup shares her struggles in her latest memoir, Anchor & Flares.

I adored one of Braestrup’s earlier books, Marriage and Other Acts of Charity, (my review) when I read it a few years ago so I was thrilled when I received Anchor & Flares and quickly dove into the book.  I love Braestrup’s voice so the book started off with a bang for me – it was like I was visiting an old friend – but about a quarter of the way through, it seemed to lose its focus so I ended up liking the book a great deal but didn’t love it the way I thought I would.

As I expected, I loved the writing and found the book thought provoking.  Even though my own son never considered the military, I could relate to and agreed with most of what Braestrup said.  Even though I didn’t love this book, I think it’s well worth reading, especially if you’re struggling with your child’s decision.  I think Anchor & Flares would make a terrific book club selection because there is so much to think and talk about.

Review copy provided by Little, Brown. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.


17 Comments leave one →
  1. September 22, 2015 6:05 am

    My brother went into the Marines right out of high school and made a career of it. He was very fortunate that his whole career he was stationed the same place, except for four years he spent in Japan. My youngest son went into the Marines right out of high school. He chose not to reenlist. Sometimes he wished he’d have stayed in, but he’s now working in a field that he’s always wanted to be in, so it’s all good.

    The book sounds interesting.

  2. September 22, 2015 7:08 am

    I’ve read a few of Kate Braestrup’s books too and like her very much. I’ll have to look for this one.

  3. September 22, 2015 7:10 am

    My nephew just joined the Navy. Yes, he is special too. This sounds like a book many people can relate to.

  4. September 22, 2015 8:21 am

    I can’t even imagine how difficult it would be as a parent. But we do need special individuals serving our country. It’s quite the sacrifice.

  5. Patty permalink
    September 22, 2015 10:12 am

    Oh boy…memoirs always sound so good…but…I just can’t get into them…sigh!

  6. September 22, 2015 11:36 am

    I can certainly see why a parent might struggle with a child’s decision to join the military… sounds like a thought-provoking read.

  7. September 22, 2015 12:02 pm

    I loved the audiobook of Marriage and Other Acts of Charity (narrated by Braestrup). This sounds like another good memoir. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about it.

  8. September 22, 2015 2:12 pm

    I really liked her book I’m Here if You Need Me. I’ll have to check this one out.

  9. September 22, 2015 3:56 pm

    I’ve never heard of this author but I could definitely understand the struggle. You would be proud of your child and scared at the same time.

  10. September 22, 2015 5:12 pm

    I love memoirs usually. My dad was a marine, my brother was a marine, my great uncle a marine. I have 3 boys and I would struggle too. None of mine chose that path either– I would have been proud and afraid, if they did. I’m always on the look-out for good book club books!

  11. September 22, 2015 5:32 pm

    I think it would be a struggle to make that decision too, not that a kid would let a parent make it anyway though….

  12. September 22, 2015 11:05 pm

    As a parent it would be such a hard thing to embrace, no matter your views on war. My dad was drafted and Jason used the Navy as a way to escape Flint. Lucky for me my dad survived and Jason was only ever stationed in DC. I can’t even imagine if Gage wanted to enlist.

  13. September 23, 2015 12:29 am

    This sounds like a really powerful read. Thanks for putting this one on my radar!

  14. September 23, 2015 1:43 pm

    I can be sympathetic to the mother in this story even though none of my three kids made the military decision. That career chocie is so difficult for many no matter what their final decision. Sounds like a good story.

  15. Beth F permalink
    September 24, 2015 8:07 am

    I liked this more than you did. I agree that this would be excellent book club choice

  16. September 25, 2015 1:02 pm

    My three nephews didn’t have too many options when they graduated high school so all three joined the military (Air Force, Marines, Army). The two fared okay and never went into combat and managed to be stationed in some pretty cool places but the one did go into combat and although he finished his tours of duty, he is having a tough time of it now. Not something that just anyone can do. I really feel like young men often consider it a “last chance” opportunity and as a mom of a young man, I feel for the parents.

  17. September 25, 2015 3:29 pm

    This sounds like something a friend of mine could relate to as her oldest just joined the marines!

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