Synopses & Reviews
The Vietnam War is explored in Kohler’s debut novel. Living with their WWII hero father after the death of their mother siblings Jeannie and Kip Jackson are left to their own devices. Jeannie marries a young doctor and gets pregnant while trouble making Kip impulsively joins the Marines. In Vietnam in 1968 he quickly learns that surviving the jungle means making hard choices and becomes embroiled in a military crime. Meanwhile in San Francisco Jeannie meets a 16 year old girl Lee Walker who seduces her (sexually and politically) and leads her into the world of antiwar activism where she is asked to forge medical letters for inductees hoping to be reclassified 4F. Although she is in over her head Jeannie also tries to help her brother’s defense at court martial. Although Jeannie Kip and Lee are all well realized characters the stateside chapters feel overstuffed and melodramatic. It is with the Vietnam War chapters that the author distinguishes herself. You would have to go back to Susan Fromberg Schaeffer’s Buffalo Afternoon to find a novel written by a civilian that so totally captures the nightmarish psychedelic feel of a war that refuses to be relegated to the dusty pages of history. Agent: David Godwin David Godwin Associates. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
San Francisco, 1968: Jeannie and Kip are bereaved and adrift, their mother dead under mysterious circumstances, and their father--a decorated World War II veteran--consumed by guilt and losing control of his teenage children. Kip, a dreamer and swaggerer prone to small-time trouble, enlists with the Marines to fight in Vietnam. Jeannie finds a seemingly safe haven in early marriage to a doctor and motherhood.
But when Kip is accused of a terrible military crime, Jeannie is seduced--sexually, emotionally, politically--into joining an underground antiwar organization. As Jennie attempts to save her brother, her search for the truth leads her into two dangerous relationships, with a troubled young woman and a grievously wounded veteran, that might threaten her marriage, her child, and perhaps her life.
This is the story of a family caught in the maelstrom of sweeping change, where social customs and traditional values are overturned by events that will transform America. An emotionally wrenching and morally complex novel, The Outside Lands is Hannah Kohler's powerful, confident debut and announces her as a remarkable new literary talent.