REVIEW: THE GUNNERS, BY REBECCA KAUFFMAN

 

The story introduces Mikey Callahan, a thirty-year-old who is suffering from the clouded vision of macular degeneration. He struggles to establish human connections—even his emotional life is a blur.

As the novel begins, he is reconnecting with “The Gunners,” his group of childhood friends, after one of their members has committed suicide. Sally had distanced herself from all of them before ending her life, and she died harboring secrets about the group and its individuals. Mikey especially needs to confront dark secrets about his own past and his father. How much of this darkness accounts for the emotional stupor Mikey is suffering from as he reaches his maturity? And can The Gunners, prompted by Sally’s death, find their way to a new day? The core of this adventure, made by Mikey, Alice, Lynn, Jimmy, and Sam, becomes a search for the core of truth, friendship, and forgiveness.

My Thoughts: I was drawn to The Gunners by a curiosity about friends growing up together and then growing apart. The characters sounded relatable, and the story did not disappoint.

Mikey’s voice is prominent, and we learn more about the others through his eyes, cloudy though they were. The analogy of cloudy vision (physically) carries over into the emotional “clouds” of family secrets.

How each of the characters viewed Sally, the character with the darkest secrets, since she took a drastic step in her own life, would reveal much about each of them.

The get-together after Sally’s funeral reminded me of another story that I loved, The Big Chill, a film I enjoyed in the 1980s. Trying to deconstruct the choices friends make, as well as struggling to uncover the dark secrets of the past and present, kept me turning pages.

As one would expect, some of the characters are more likable than others. Sally’s brash tone probably covered up some insecurities, but she was sometimes hard to take. Sam was pleasant enough, but he overdid the apologetic and sometimes obsequious effort to be liked.

I felt sorry for Mikey, whose life was undone by the uncovering of some of the secrets. But as time passed, and as the group enjoyed more get-togethers, the power and joy of their connections left me with such a warm feeling. Almost as if I had become part of their story. 4.5 stars.

***

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12 thoughts on “REVIEW: THE GUNNERS, BY REBECCA KAUFFMAN

  1. Yeah the premise reminds me quite a bit of The Big Chill. What a great movie that was — back in the 80s. The similarities make me want to read this one. Nicely reviewed!

    Liked by 1 person

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