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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Book Review: Legacy Road by Graham Garrison

Legacy Road
Graham Garrison
(Kregel Publications)

About the Author

Graham Garrison
Graham Garrison is the author of “Hero’s Tribute” and “Legacy Road.” He’s written for newspapers and magazines, including America’s Civil WarBoating WorldGeorgia Physician and Repertoire. Graham has lived in almost a dozen towns, five states (Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and Washington) and one army base (Fort Bragg, N.C.). He’s grown roots in Johns Creek, Ga., with his wife Katie, sons Nicholas and Nolan, and Baxter the Beagle. He and his family worship at Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church. He is a Florida Gator by birth, but a Georgia Bulldog by the grace of God.

About the Book

Wes Watkins’s journalism career took off when he was asked to eulogize Michael Gavin, a stranger to Wes but a hometown hero to the humble folks of Talking Creek, Georgia. While researching Gavin’s life, Wes was confronted with an estranged relationship of his own that he wasn’t prepared to address, having ignored for years the occasional letters from his imprisoned father. Wes has chosen to focus instead on his growing career and his budding relationship with Emmy. His life is looking up . . . until his marriage proposal to Emmy goes south.

Left to wonder if he can reconcile with Emmy before she is deployed to Afghanistan, Wes can no longer avoid the other reconciliation that troubles him. But when Wes uncovers a painful truth about his parents’ past, patching things up with his father may prove impossible. Wes’s life is close to spiraling out of control. Will Wes learn to forgive? Or will the best year of his life turn into the worst?

Set against the haunting backdrop of several Civil War battlefields, Legacy Road is a grace-full exploration of hidden secrets–and what happens when they are revealed. Through the ups and downs of human relationships, of family ties lost and found, southern fiction fans will ponder the age-old question: How do you forgive others–and release yourself–from a past that threatens to destroy you?

My Review

I typically read Christian suspense, so this novel of contemporary fiction was a nice chance of pace for me. I traded heart-thumping chase scenes for scenes that delved deeper into human relationships--which was a needed change. What the novel reminded me is that human relationships provide plenty of suspense of their own.

In Graham Garrison's first novel, Hero's Tribute, journalist Wes Watkins has the task of writing the eulogy for Michael Gavin, an American hero. What he uncovers goes beyond Michael's story, and that's what Legacy Road is about: Wes's coming to terms with the estranged father he doesn't really know. Add to the mix his doomed marriage proposal to Emmy, who is being deployed to Afghanistan. Add in his mother's dire need for a kidney transplant and her own secrets. And don't forget some Civil War letters and a research paper Wes needs to write in spite of being thwarted again and again. Emmy has a problem too and must learn to move on in spite of withheld forgiveness.

In other words, there's a lot going on. And that's terrific. Anybody who has studied novel writing knows that conflict is king, and Graham uses a deft hand in juggling the various conflicts and leading us toward a plausible, thoughtful, and meaningful conclusion with depth. Being a Civil War buff myself, I especially liked the history Graham wove into the story. I also enjoyed Wes's father's letters woven into the tale (what a nice touch). Plenty of relational twists and turns embody this finely crafted and sometimes poetic novel that held my interest and created plenty of suspense. I kept wondered how these tangled relational threads would unwind, and I wasn't disappointed. Add in a finely interwoven faith message (you know how much I value message), and Legacy Road rises above the shallowness found in a lot of other CBA novels and offers real depth. This is a worthy read. I highly recommend it.

Author's Website
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