The Free

Sometimes a novel will make me cry, and when I say, "cry" what I mean is one or two tears will leak out of my eyes and I will slowly wipe them away. This book though - this book made me bawl. I was sobbing. The characters and words touch my heart in such an unexpected way.  

Willy Vlautin's writing style is simple, but he has this talent for bringing huge emotion to realistic everyday characters. These characters could exist in real-life. Each of them are facing real-life problems with their real-life emotions.

But how do you write about real life problems, and actually make it interesting? (I'm not sure yet what the answer is, but Vlautin was able to do it.) This novel is one that I will be studying in depth to understand how he was able to tell such a powerful story in such a simple way.

There are three distinctive characters: a veteran with a brain injury, the nightwatchmen of the care center, and the veteran's main nurse. Sounds simple enough, right? But the understated qualities of the characters caught me completely off guard.

The Free: A Novel

The blurb of this book on Amazon says:

While serving in Iraq, veteran Leroy Kervin suffered a traumatic brain injury. Frustrated by the simplest daily routines, and unable to form new memories, he eventually attempts suicide. Lying in a coma, he retreats deep inside the memories locked in his mind. Freddie McCall works two jobs and still can't make ends meet. He's lost his wife and kids, and the house is next. Medical bills have buried him in debt, a situation that propels him to consider a lucrative—and dangerous—proposition. Pauline Hawkins is a nurse at the local hospital. Though she attends to others' needs with practical yet firm kindness, including her mentally ill elderly father, she remains emotionally removed. But a new patient, a young runaway, touches something deep and unexpected inside her.The lives of these characters intersect as they look for meaning in desperate times. Heartbreaking and hopeful, The Free is a testament to the resiliency of the human heart.

The Free: A Novel


What books have made you cry lately?