Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Paco's Story by Larry Heinemann

Copyright: 1986 (original)
Publisher: Vintage Books
Genre: fiction
Pages: 210
Challenges: War Through the Generations (Vietnam), Buy 1 book and read it
My rating: 4.5/5

If you have been reading this blog than you know I've been participating in the read-a-long of this book with the War Through the Generations challenge.

Last week I gave a brief summary about what had happened so far in the book.  Tomorrow I'll be answering questions on the last two chapters of this book.

In case you missed those other posts or didn't read them all, here's a brief description about the story.  Paco is the only man left alive after an attack on his unit.  He is left for days..near death...before he is found, rescued and nursed back to health.   Now he is back in the states, out of the hospital, and in need of a job. He gets a job at a dinner in a small town and works all day, and goes back to his room at the inn at night.

We get all the info about Paco and what he went through from a narrator..one that we don't learn who it is until half-way through the book.  However through this narrator we learn more about Paco than if Paco told the story himself, or at least that's what I think.   We get flashbacks about things that happened when Paco was still in Vietnam, and we learn about what is going on with Paco present day.

This isn't a book to be read lightly.  There are several scenes that some might have trouble reading because of the honesty to them, this is war after all.  There is also a rape scene that some might have trouble with.

I personally thought all the scenes benefited the story and made the story.  How can we possibly learn about what Paco went through (or any soldier who fought in Vietnam) without getting the bad along with the good (is there good?).

I finished this book about an hour ago, on my lunch break.  Normally I don't write reviews right away for books like this, books that really make you think.  I like to take a couple days to think everything over. However, knowing I would be answering the questions tomorrow, I felt I needed to review it today.  Or maybe need is the wrong word, I wanted to review it today.

And this is a book that makes you think.  Yes it's tough to read at times.  However, those poor soldiers.  The things they saw, the things they did, the things they were ordered to do.   I just can't imagine.   I definitely think this is a book you should read.   I think this would be a great book to read in class..maybe college over high school because I could see a lot of parents being upset about their kids reading this in high school.  Regardless, I think this is a book that is best read with a group that you can talk to about it.  I think having the questions to ponder over and answer each week really helped me understand Paco more, it made me really think about this story more than I would if I had just read it on my own.

I gave this book such a high rating because I think it does a great job describing what happened to the men who served in Vietnam.  Hard to read at times, definitely, worth the read in the long run, absolutely.

Regarding the cover, loved it, thought it was perfect for this novel.  I found myself staring at the cover a lot.  Thinking about the man pictured, thinking about Paco.  I stared at the man's face..just looking at the expression.


Serena said...

I'm so glad that you enjoyed this novel. It is a bit rough in terms of scenes and language, but it is necessary to depict the war and what soldiers endured. I cannot wait to see what everyone says about the book and what their answers are to the final questions.

Anna said...

I'm so glad to see you thought so highly of this book. It's one of the best novels of the Vietnam War, in my opinion. I was worried people would be put off by the graphic scenes and images, but they really do drive home the point that war is an ugly thing.

Unknown said...

From the other reviews I've read..of those also participating in this read-a-long, it seems we all felt the same way..the horrific scenes were necessary to make this story really hit home. I'm definitely glad you ladies picked this one, because I doubt I would have read it on my own and I'm really glad I did.

Jules said...

It is a good Vietnam War book. I also really enjoyed, your right, there are graphic scenes, but I do think they worked well, no matter how uncomfortable it made you feel. It really does bring the horrifying realities to war to light. It's been nice reading along with everyone, and their answers to the questions.

Unknown said...

Jules - I definitely feel I got more out of it by reading it with a group and answering questions.