Reviewer: Amy Lignor
Title: The Last Day
Author: James Landis
Publisher: Steerforth Press
Release Date: September 2009
Genre/Sub-genre: Inspirational Fiction
Year/Setting: Present day, New Hampshire
Overall Rating: 4.5
Sexual Content Rating: None
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: None
Violent Content Rating: Moderate/Intense
James's Website/Blog: www.thelastdaybook.com
Wow. Where to begin? I have to tell you that with most books, as you know, I either very much love or very much dislike them. With me, there's no in between. Not in life, not in prose, not in...well...anything. This is the first book that I think I've ever read that makes me seriously have to consider the "gray areas" that so much of life is made up of. Let me explain.
This book is about a man named Warren Harlan Pease. Everyone he loves calls him War. He is a young man who was a soldier fighting in Iraq. The author brings us back through War's life and introduces his significant other named Bethie. She is THAT girl. You know, the one where you walk into a classroom and literally know that she's the one that you have to spend the rest of your life with? War knew this the minute he came across Bethie. His heart and soul knew that she was the one who'd be waiting for him...forever, if need be. His best friend in school was Ryan. Ryan was short in stature. He was brass and liked to cuss under his breath alot. He was tired of being the "small" one in the room and decided to buy some weight-lifting equipment when he was a kid. War would "spot" him as Ryan lifted these weights and got wider and wider with muscles and a chiseled abdomen. One day, as Ryan was lifting, his feet hit the floor. That was it. He was growing taller. His prayers and hard work had been answered. Mr. Smith is Bethie's father. He is a teacher of English literature who makes the bored students stop and think. That's very rare in a teacher. But Mr. Smith can shout the words from a rooftop, like an Archangel has come into their midst and proclaimed that the beauty of words is the only thing worth living for...and dying for. Mr. Smith is a man who never takes off his glasses. "They were a part of his face," says the author. "He was always ready to read something. A book. His daughter's face. A poem out loud." Let's just say, I identified a great deal with this teacher. He was fired by the school because he mentioned Jesus/God in his classroom. A big no-no, nowadays. And, I met War's father. This is the man I couldn't identify with. He's lost his wife, I won't tell you how because you really need to discover this gray area for yourself. When Mr. Smith lost his wife, he gave up his son. He didn't know what to do. But the author described him as a man who believed books were bad. Wars were started over books - the Bible, the Koran... These things to his father were unnecessary and started more trouble than they were worth. You know what he believed in? Guns.
I followed War, and you will too, through his life. His regrets, his friendships, the love he lost, and the best friend that will end up being the savior of his very own family - because his best friend has now become the support. War also has a daughter. A daughter who'll always remember one day where she walked the beach with her father and his friend Ray. Who's Ray? Ray is Jesus. Ray is that guy, that Friend, who gets to know us on that one day where he takes us to a place we haven't seen before, but hope to god is there. It was a wonderful thought, and my favorite parts of this book were when Jesus explained about the trees, snails, worms, the beach - and when he smiled. He smiles alot. He, who is the real support in this book, has strong hands. That's what I remember the most about what this wonderful author wrote. Jesus' hands. The strength of them...to hold us up at the worst and best times of our life. Footprints in the Sand is my favorite - and nationally recognized - poem about Jesus walking beside, next to, and behind us as we face the horror of what life is all about. I'm a Christian. I believe in Him. But...the book was difficult because I don't believe in war. I believe that we as a country have enemies, but I'm still not too sure why that is. It's like we're all racing to the same door to be let in when we die - but just because we call the "Head One" something different, then we have to fight about it?? What exactly does it matter what name you give Him if we all love the fact that He's there?
No...I'm not going to preach. Because, as with all gray areas, there was a moment in this book where War's dad has had his American flag flying at half-mast ever since his wife died, in honor of her. Then one day he pulls it up...to the top. His hands are bleeding as he struggles with the rope to make sure that his flag can be seen from every place in the world. The day was September 11th. Innocent people had died for nothing. And the American flag was waving high in the sky...and I agreed with that. So, see? Whether or not you believe in war...guns...brutality...freedom....choice...it's okay. It's these gray areas that make us human and, hopefully, Jesus will walk by my side one day and answer my questions. God knows...I have alot of them.
Read this. Read this twice. Get angry, get happy, nod your head, cry, laugh, but take the time to understand all sides. Bravo to the author. And...thank you.
Until next time, Amy
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