Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The World Played Chess, by Robert Dugoni {ends 9/22}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

I was ten when I accompanied my father to the ACE Hardware store in Millbrae. I don’t recall what he purchased, but I do recall he handed the cashier a ten-dollar bill and she gave him back change for a twenty. I remember thinking we’d hit the mother lode.

“No. That’s not right,” my father said. “I only gave you a ten.” He handed the woman back her ten-dollar bill. She cried.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “We lost our nephew in Vietnam. My sister got the word last night.”

My dad expressed his condolences before we walked to the parking lot. “Why are we in that damn war?” he said.

“Hey, Dad?”

“Huh?”

“Why’d you give her back the ten dollars?”

“Never take anything that doesn’t belong to you or that you haven’t earned,” he said, sliding into the car. “You never know who you’re stealing from, and what that money means to them.”

I had forgotten that moment until that summer, when I worked with William.

This was a powerful coming-of-age story about three different generations of young men. 

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The World Played Chess, by Robert Dugoni {ends 9/22}
In 1979, Vincent Bianco has just graduated high school. His only desire: collect a little beer money and enjoy his final summer before college. So he lands a job as a laborer on a construction crew. Working alongside two Vietnam vets, one suffering from PTSD, Vincent gets the education of a lifetime. Now forty years later, with his own son leaving for college, the lessons of that summer—Vincent’s last taste of innocence and first taste of real life—dramatically unfold in a novel about breaking away, shaping a life, and seeking one’s own destiny.

Vincent tells most of the story—it’s the story of his own year after high school, as well as the story of his own son (40 years later) graduating high school, and the story of him reading William’s journal from his time serving with the Marines in Vietnam. There are also parts of the story that show the relationship between William and Vincent during the time they worked on a construction site together (the year after Vincent’s high school graduation, during William’s decline into PTSD after his return from Vietnam about ten years earlier). 

While this puts Vincent’s and William’s stories in the first person, Vincent tells the story of his son Beau’s last year of high school and transition to college. The perspective seemed right, though, as Vincent had insight for all three stories. He not only told Beau’s story, but compared it to his story and that of William, and the different events that had forced the three young men to mature and move on to new stages of their lives. 

The writing for all of the story lines was empathetic and compelling. The experiences of the three young men were unique, but shared some common themes. Vincent’s narration often led the reader to the commonalities between the three very different lives.

Overall, I’d give this book 5 out of 5 stars. Thought should be given before recommending it, as the war stories could be triggering for some readers. It was a memoir-style literary fiction book that seemed as believable as non-fiction. If the subject matter sounds even a little interesting, the writing made this a fabulous book.

{click here to purchase—currently FREE for Kindle Unlimited members}

Becki Bayley loves rainy nights, supporting the arts, and Cherry Coke with Southern Comfort. She also enjoys sharing snippets of her life and that of her family on Instagram as PoshBecki.

GIVEAWAY:

Two of my lucky readers will win a copy of The World Played Chess!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Wednesday, September 22nd, at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified via email the next day, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner(s) will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

The World Played Chess, by Robert Dugoni

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