“The Unwilling” by John Hart is extremely dark, intense and emotional. The author’s practical perspective on the impact of the Vietnam battle on the family was heart-breaking, raw and unsettling. The complex plot and conversational writing style quickly pulled me in and held my attention. The writer’s portrayal of the loss of beloved family members, how it changed the dynamics of the family forever and the subsequent outcomes to their future.  It left me sympathizing with their devastation and pain. This story, its characters and all that they had lost remained with me long after reading this story. This was unquestionably an interesting, diverse spine chiller.

This story of “The Unwilling” happens in 1972 and starts with William French. He is an investigator with the Charlotte Police Department, being informed that his child Jason has gotten back to town recently after being released from jail. Jason did three visits in Vietnam and returned home a spoiled and scarred man who then turned to drugs and violence which eventually led to jail. William’s oldest son Robert died in Vietnam. His wife, Gabrielle, was heart broken when her “most loved child” died, wishing it would have been Jason instead. She avoids Jason and believe that he is a dangerous to their youngest child Gibby. Her lone concern is to safe guard Gibby.

Gibby is a senior in secondary school and is going to graduate. Since Robert’s demise he has been protected by his overprotective mother and has not been permitted to date, go outdoors, or participate in sports. He’s angry and resent being kept away from his brother Jason. He wants Jason’s attention and even wants to spend time with him. This makes way for this story about growing up where Gibby discovers that the world isn’t as it appears as he is immediately pulled into the criminal universe of corruption, danger and revenge..

When William confronts Jason for the first time he is informed that Gibby has agreed to hangout with his elder brother. Jason is angry at how his parents have dealt with his younger brother. He’s determined to invest time with him and do “brotherly things” regardless of his parents’ determination to keep them separated. William feels that he no longer knows his child Jason. He is a father who loves his child despite how he has changed, what he has done. He wishes he could reveal to Jason how he truly feels however seeing how angry Jason is he decides to leave. Fearful that he will lose every one of the three of his children. Will Jason draw Gibby into trouble? Can William save his children from danger? Can he save what is left of his family?

The Unwilling by John Hart is an amazing novel that deals with the devastating impacts of the Vietnam battle on family. It revolves around William French’s dysfunctional family, their misfortune and battle to move ahead. I liked the multiple points of view, the uncommonly very well-developed characters, the mind boggling storyline and unique topics.

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Book Review Podcast ( The Unwilling: By John Hart )