cover image The Long March Home

The Long March Home

Marcus Brotherton and Tosca Lee. Revell, $26.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-8007-4275-1

In this tour de force from Brotherton (A Bright and Blinding Sun) and Lee (A Single Light), four friends’ lives change irrevocably when America becomes embroiled in WWII. In 1930s Mobile, Ala., preacher’s son Jimmy Propfield shares an idyllic upbringing with childhood sweetheart Claire Crockett and her younger brother Billy. Hank Wright soon enters their circle, and the four become inseparable as they grow up. But as high school graduation approaches, Jimmy wrestles with uncertainty about his future, and though he’s expected by his father to attend seminary, he’s driven by faith—and a telegram with shocking news——to enlist with Billy and Hank. (He’s also eager to create distance from Claire, with whom his relationship has fractured.) The three are assigned to the Thirty-First Infantry in Manila, which at first seems like a paradise. But things become dire after the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and the boys are taken prisoners of war, beginning a 60-mile march up the Bataan Peninsula to camps where unbelievable horrors await. They struggle to survive and return home, where Jimmy hopes to reunite with Claire. Brotherton and Lee masterfully capture what it was like for soldiers to face war’s atrocities, as well as the heartbreak of those waiting for them back home. This is a winner. (May)