In the Field by Jesse Loncraine
|In the Field by Jesse Loncraine|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Liz Green|
|Summary: Powerful story about two women with missing sons in militia-dominated East Africa|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: April 2017|
|Publisher: Blue Mark Books|
In the Field is essentially a story of two mothers who have been separated from their sons. Liz and her (adult) son Orin are both Western journalists, while Christine and her 12-year-old son Paul are from a remote village in East Africa. After major surgery, Liz flies to East Africa to find her son who has gone walkabout during a posting. At the same time, Christine is mourning the loss of her own family: her husband has been killed and her son abducted by militia.
We follow Christine as she tries to pick up the pieces of her broken life, and Paul as he adjusts to life in a militia training camp. We follow Liz as she searches for her missing son, and Orin as he seeks out his next big scoop. The stories do, of course, intertwine. Orin writes a groundbreaking article about Christine and heads into the danger zone to find her son Paul. Liz reads the article and heads off to find Christine, hoping that she will lead the way to Orin. The paths of these four people gradually converge. The story has plenty of interesting and unusual elements to offset the fact that the plot is somewhat contrived. There's the herd of boys in the militia camp, and the casual brutality of the camp leader. There's the African mother who accepts that, whatever happens now, her son is lost to her. And then there is journalism and adrenalin and drug abuse, and the ethical conflict between wanting to make one's name by telling a great story, and wanting to change somebody else's life. It's an unsentimental look at African life, shocking, though-provoking, damning, and I imagine very true to life.
This is a very well-written book with lots of interesting detail and a powerful story that deserves to be told but it's not a particularly easy read. And not just because it's dealing with a tragedy that repeats itself around the world with alarming frequency. I do like my books to be page-turners, something I can get completely lost in, but I found this one very slow until I was over two-thirds in, when the action suddenly picked up. But my main problem was the fact that none of the characters interested me very much and, as a result, I wasn't particularly invested in what happened to them.
To sum up: quality writing offset by not-particularly-likeable characters, giving a rating of 3½ stars.
For a fascinating (non-fiction) account of war journalism, try Frontline by David Loyn.
You can read more book reviews or buy In the Field by Jesse Loncraine at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy In the Field by Jesse Loncraine at Amazon.com.
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