Measure, by T. Jefferson Parker, is a departure from
the crime novels he has written in the past. This book is
about the bond between siblings as well as people connected
through military service. It puts a potent face to the names
and numbers of those serving as they transition from war to
peace, and from serving in the military to becoming a civilian.
It is a novel that touches on many issues from PTSD to the
plight of an agricultural family.
The plot focuses on the experiences of those soldiers returning
home. It also has sub-plots of political/controversial issues
about governmental overreach and the right to bear arms. Although
Parker does present both sides of these issues, these sub-plots
are a distraction from the body of the story as his main character,
Patrick Norris, tries to find a place for himself in the civilian
world after finishing his deployment in Afghanistan.
Norris is trying to fulfill his dream of starting a small
sport fishing business, only to find he is needed to help
restore his family's avocado farm after an arsonist destroyed
much of it. He encounters his brother, Ted's, strange obsessions
that have a very dark undercurrent, being drawn into a circle
of violent, criminal misfits.
The most powerful parts of the story is when Parker describes
how Norris and his Marine buddies attempt to overcome the
horrors faced while serving in Afghanistan, including watching
their friends die and become handicapped. He struggles to
defeat the demons of PTSD, bringing back the horrid memories
of war. A quote in the book, "He saw the flash of light
again. It was bright enough to obliterate the world
there was no sound either, as if his memory was being polite
in public. The ghosts in his heart rose suddenly, then settled.
Patrick lowered his gaze to the tiled floor and closed his
eyes and let the voices swim around him."
Another quote in the book shows the disconnect between civilian
and military life, "This was what he hated most about
civilian life - the incredible slowness; the numbing discussion,
the goop-thick assumptions
" Jefferson commented
to blackfiv.net, "What drove me to write this book is
that Americans do not seem to understand the level of sacrifice.
I did not get it until after speaking and spending time with
those serving. Their level of sacrifice is completely different
than for someone going to college. I do think many Americans
want to say thank you, buy them a beer, but do not want to
hear about what they really did or are going through. I really
hope people understand what the vets are going through after
coming home. Let's remember only about two percent are connected
with someone serving, which means 98% of us do not know these
guys and gals. I want to leave the reader with a sense of
hope and optimism about the veteran."
Readers might wonder why the title, Full Measures,
as Parker describes in the book the "full measure"
of death and mutilations. What comes to mind is a line in
the Gettysburg Address, "that from these honored dead
we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave
the last full measure of devotion."
Jefferson stated, "Patrick wonders what was the purpose
of fighting in Afghanistan since it appears it was all for
nothing. That is his view and one I share, although I hope
we are both wrong. I interviewed a lot of vets for this book
and there is anger because they question if their brothers
died in vain. I put a variation of the Gettysburg Address
line because it is relevant to this war when so many lost
their lives, limbs, or part of their soul."
It becomes evident that Parker wished to connect Americans
with those soldiers returning home. He captures the bonds
of loyalty between brothers, those by birth and that "band
of brothers" who served together. This novel brings back
the age-old story of brothers: the camaraderie, competitions,
and love. Anyone who wants to understand the mindset of recent
veterans and the joys and tribulations they must go through
should read Full Measures.
On a side note, Parker will be participating in the Veteran
Benefit Book Fair in San Diego on November 8th aboard the
USS Midway, since he considers this a worthy cause.
of other titles by this author
Renegades (Charlie Hood #2)
River (Charlie Hood #4)