Author Dan Walsh is making quite a name for himself. Often compared to Nicholas Sparks, he has seven books now published by Revell, each of which has been well received by readers. Close on the heels of his last acclaimed novel, THE DISCOVERY, comes his latest title, THE REUNION, already being snatched up by fans everywhere.
The last thing Aaron Miller considers himself is a hero, and his family would certainly agree. Upon returning from the Vietnam War, he made some choices that cost him his wife and two small children. He hasn’t seen Karen or Steve since they were little, and wonders if they even remember him at all. Although Aaron cleaned up his life and accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior years ago, he feels it would be best for everyone --- his kids, especially --- to leave the past behind him. He now maintains a humble life as a handyman in a Florida trailer park.
"THE REUNION is a tribute to war heroes of every generation. But as wonderfully as Walsh portrays the realism and after-effects of war, he’s even better at creating a realistic picture of the battles we face in our lives --- relationally, emotionally and spiritually."
But several states away, there are three men who do consider Aaron a hero. They wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for his actions, which were worthy of the Congressional Medal of Honor. The men are determined to locate their fellow Marine so they can properly thank him for saving their lives.
Investigative reporter Dave Russo is a divorced father of one, who is interviewing Vietnam War heroes for a book he is writing to honor his father’s memory. He is shocked to receive a call from millionaire John Lansing, who shares the story of how Aaron saved his life, and wants to hire Dave to find him. It’s an offer Dave can’t refuse.
Early on in his investigation, Dave meets Aaron’s daughter, Karen, and neither can deny the attraction. As his and Karen’s feelings for each other grow, Dave locates Aaron, but Karen doesn’t know how she feels about meeting the father she assumes abandoned her when she was young. It’s not long before Dave learns that Aaron is more than just a war hero. He is also a hero to many of those who live in the trailer park: Irene Hamlin, the elderly widow who lives alone; Billy, the wheelchair-ridden war vet; and Heather, the young pregnant runaway with an abusive boyfriend. But will Karen and Steve ever think of their father as a hero? And is it possible that they will find it in their hearts to forgive?
THE REUNION is a tribute to war heroes of every generation. But as wonderfully as Walsh portrays the realism and after-effects of war, he’s even better at creating a realistic picture of the battles we face in our lives --- relationally, emotionally and spiritually. He gives us characters we relate to and root for, who jump from the page to our hearts and, of course, balanced with a nicely woven plot.
Although I wouldn’t label the writing as deep, the messages and themes throughout are certainly ones to take seriously: making poor choices and suffering the consequences, selflessness, courage, honor, grace and forgiveness. Religious references are plenty, but that’s the whole point. Walsh does a great job driving home biblical truths in an entertaining and heartfelt way. Speaking of hearts, be prepared to have yours touched. Keep the tissues handy, as you may find yourself tearing up a time or two, whether in sadness or in joy. If you’re a hopeless romantic, you shouldn’t be disappointed. The romance between Dave and Karen isn’t dramatic, and it moves a little quickly, but it’s sweet and satisfying.
With seven novels within three years, I can’t help wondering if Walsh will be able to keep up the pace. We can only hope.
Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on September 19, 2012