Thursday, March 5, 2015

Johnny Don't March - Timothy Hurley



Johnny Don't March is an absorbing look at a returning soldier's descent into hell.

In his final firefight in Afghanistan, Army Specialist Nelson O'Brien loses both his best friend and a little piece of his mind. He regains consciousness far from his unit, and finds himself pinned down by a man who he presumes to be an Afghani fighter. Somehow, Nelson manages to walk away from the situation -- and his C.O. insists on pinning a medal on him which he doesn't believe he deserves. But it's when he returns home that his real battle starts, for Nelson has come back from Afghanistan with PTSD. And thus begins a race against time: will he get into treatment before he loses it completely and hurts someone he loves?

I totally bought into the story. I very much liked Nelson and his girlfriend, Prue, and I was pulling for a happy ending for them. And I loved Maleitha, Nelson's self-appointed guardian angel, whose cameo appearance comes at a most opportune time.

Hurley is a retired physician, and it shows in his facility with medical terminology -- but he never overwhelms the reader with technical terms. In fact, the book is well-written and well-edited. And the author does a great job at escalating tension, until you begin to wonder whether there's any way the story can end except tragically.

My only complaint about Johnny Don't March is that Hurley has done a better job of creating a character with PTSD than I did. But that's my problem, not yours. Highly recommended.