Black Rose Writing

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By Gabriel Mabante

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FOUNTAIN OF TEARS delves into the concepts of love and war in a gentle, rather than overtly violent way, which is admirable. And because fighting a relentlessly negative mindset, filled with fearful thoughts, guilt and messages of worthlessness is something not only experienced by those afflicted with PTSD, the tale has value to offer all.

Truth in human history is complicated because the people living it are complicated, as the novel FOUNTAIN OF TEARS attempts to explore.

All life forms are born and die, though not always from old age. When life changes in an instant – erasing friends, co-workers, loved ones – how to cope? Around the world, people kill over whose religious sect and political views are the right ones. In FOUNTAIN OF TEARS, Jacob Miranda returns from a second military tour in post-9/11 Iraq a broken man. An 18-ton Stryker got flipped by an IED during an Iraqi reaction to displays of U.S. Military power in their country, and BOOM, just like that fellow soldiers alive moments before are now gone.

Returning home, Jacob cannot get what he has seen, nor the fact that he survived when so many of his men did not, out of his mind. Turn to God, people say, but what kind of God would allow these things to happen? For a time, Jacob turns to pills and alcohol. PTSD is no joke. It’s hard to go anywhere when every holiday shopping bag could hold an AK-47. Just accompanying his sister to the mall is an ordeal. Being a veteran has turned Jacob’s world to “shades of black and white – a listless and lifeless landscape devoid of joy and hope…” until Maddie – his best friend since they were five – and her young daughter, Charlie, bring joy and sanity back into Jacob’s life.

FOUNTAIN OF TEARS is at its best when exploring issues of history and the fact that “people have a funny way of injecting their biases” into the truths they attempt to tell. It’s at its weakest when burdening the story with cliches like: “I need you now more than ever,” “my love for you is eternal,” and “two hearts beating as one.” Strong emotions are always better shown than told. The book would more effectively evoke reader empathy if scenes were fleshed out with visceral, original description, rather than characters often breaking into tears. (Tears appear 49x and crying 16x throughout.)

Delving further into what’s come to light about the post-9/11 wars and legislation America has been involved in would also strengthen this tale. As is, events unfold very straightforwardly, which, as most veterans–along with sober alcoholics would tell you–is not how recovery generally goes. Still, fighting a relentlessly negative mindset filled with fearful thoughts, guilt and messages of worthlessness is something not only experienced by those afflicted with PTSD, so this tale has value to offer all.

~Cristina Salat for IndieReader