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Aron Lakefield served with the Big Red One during World War Two. He’s made the landings in Sicily and Omaha Beach. He’s marched through Italy, France, and Germany. He’s paid a large sum for his pair of Purple Hearts. Aron was the middle child in the Lakefield family until the war came along. Now, at thirty years old, he’s an only child.
After bouncing from one VA hospital to the next for over two years, Aron finally gets to return to his Illinois home. Left with a permanent limp by his experiences, he is also, literally, haunted by them.
It’s hard to foster an atmosphere of dread and helplessness in the aftermath of war but The Summer of ’47 proves the exception. Intriguing from the start Crook delivers a number of surprises in how Aron Lakefield’s story plays out. Three brothers have returned from World War Two but only one is alive in a narrative that oozes a subtle blend of suspense, anxiety, grief and hope. Crook certainly has a gift for communicating the macabre as he lingers to create atmosphere, a sense of place and empathy for his characters, instead of rushing into cheap thrills. There’s a prevailing sense of familiarity which seems incumbent in tales of this nature and whilst this might have proved detrimental to Crooks plot it’s original enough that it never feels stale. On this level, his timely prose echoes the real-life horrors of war that action orientated combat movies can often desensitise us to, but more importantly we’re reminded that the sacrifice made by so many must never be forgotten nor their legacy squandered.
A refreshingly poignant read with broad appeal and cleverly nuanced period detail, The Summer Of '47 is highly recommended.
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