Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Life's What Happens

                Life’s What Happens, written by Kathy Clark and Alex Parker, is an emotionally intense novel about a group of friends who attend Kent State University during the historical year of 1969-70. This is the time of the Vietnam lottery draft to fight in the war. Having happened before I was born I wasn’t familiar with anything but the basics of the draft and was mostly told about how cowardly the draft-dodgers were to take off for Canada. This book opened my eyes to how much being drafted into an unwanted war caused incredible upheaval, sometimes destroying young men and women’s lives as well as their loved ones and families. The book starts in a “Big Chill” (the movie) way with a death bringing former frat boys back together for the reading of the will. Almost immediately the reader is taken back to September, 1969 and introduced to the lives of the same frat boys as they try to make it through university, deal with their love lives and, finally, get dealt the blow of the lottery. I have to admit, I found the book a bit monotonous at times until the draft lotto happened. From then on I couldn’t put it down. The writing is so superb that I became totally invested in the futures of each character, in particular those called up to go to war. I couldn’t wait to find out if everyone went to fight, who made it home alive, who got deferred and who dodged the draft. The sights and sounds of that time are so well written that it’s like watching a movie. Perhaps the book should be made into one. This book took what was for me a little known time and made it real. Superbly written!

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