Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Blog Tour/Review: The Free by Willy Vlautin

The Free, by Willy Vlautin
2014, 320p, Contemporary Fiction
My Rating=3 Stars
Source: Received copy from publisher and TLC Books for an honest review

Award-winning author Willy Vlautin demonstrates his extraordinary talent for confronting issues facing modern America, illuminated through the lives of three memorable characters who are looking for a way out of their financial, familial, and existential crises, in his heartbreaking and hopeful fourth novel

Leroy Kervin is a 31 year old Iraqi War veteran living with a traumatic brain injury. Unable to dress or feed himself, or cope with his emotions, he has spent the last seven years in a group home. There he spends his days watching old sci-fi movies until he awakens one night with a clear mind and memories of his girlfriend. Realizing what his life has been he decides it would be better to die than to go on living this way. A failed suicide attempt leaves Leroy hospitalized where he retreats further into his mind in order to make sense of his existence.

Freddie McCall is a middle aged father working two jobs. He's lost his wife and kids, and is close to losing his house. He's buried in debt, unable to pay the medical bills from his daughter's childhood illness. As Freddie's situation becomes more desperate he undertakes a risky endeavor he hopes will solve his problems but could possibly end in disaster. Just as Freddie is about to lose it all, he is faced with the possibility of getting his kids back.

Pauline Hawkins takes care of everyone else around her. She cares for her mentally ill father out of a deep sense of obligation. As a nurse at the local hospital, she treats her patients and their families with a familiar warmth and tenderness. When Pauline becomes attached to a young runaway, she learns the difficult lesson that you can't help someone who doesn't help themselves.

The lives of these three characters intersect as they look for meaning in desperate times. Willy Vlautin covers themes ranging from health care to the economic downturn and housing crisis, to the toll war takes on veterans and their families. The Free is an extraordinary portrait of contemporary America and a testament to the resiliency of the human heart.

I haven't heard of Willy Vlautin before or read any of his books and when I read the summary for this, it sounded intriguing. I like to read a variety of books and this sounded like one I would find interesting.

It's about three people and their lives. Leroy, the soldier, who wakes up one night with a clear mind and decides he doesn't want to deal with life anymore. Most of his story is told through his dreams and would correspond to what he was currently going through. It was sometimes hard for me to follow until I figured that out. There's also Freddie, who worked two jobs just trying to stay afloat. He was divorced and buried in debt, which led to a poor decision which could have cost him everything. Then there's Pauline, the nurse who cared about the teenage girl she met and was concerned about what had been done to her and what would be done to her when she left the hospital. The three characters' lives intersect but they don't really interact much with each other.

This is an interesting book and I'm glad I read it. I enjoy Mr. Vlautin's writing style and my heart went out to each of the characters. I wanted something really good to happen to each of them. Two of the stories ended with hope but I felt that there was more to each of their stories so it seemed a little abrupt.

This book deals with the very real situations that some people face every day and it's that part that can make this a difficult book to read. There's a lot of content in this book: Swearing, including "f" words, a one night stand, teen sex resulting in a sexually transmitted disease and an abortion (no details), drugs and violence.

About Willy Vlautin

Willy Vlautin is the author of four novels: The Motel LifeNorthlineLean on Pete, which won two Oregon Book Awards, and The Free. He is the singer and songwriter of the band Richmond Fontaine and lives in Scappoose, Oregon.

Find out more about Willy at his website and connect with him on Facebook.

Bonus! Click here to hear/download music that Willy made for the book, watch the trailer, and much more!

Willy’s Tour Stops 

Tuesday, February 4th: Love at First Book
Wednesday, February 5th: Man of La Book
Friday, February 7th: A Patchwork of Books
Monday, February 10th: Between the Covers
Tuesday, February 11th: Books Speak Volumes
Wednesday, February 12th: My Book Retreat
Thursday, February 13th: Anita Loves Books
Tuesday, February 18th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Wednesday, February 19th: Mel’s Shelves
Thursday, February 20th: Olduvai Reads
Monday, February 24th: River City Reading
Tuesday, February 25th: The Feminist Texican [Reads]
Wednesday, February 26th: Bluestalking
Thursday, February 27th: Reading on a Rainy Day
Monday, March 3rd: Booksie’s Blog
Tuesday, March 4th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Wednesday, May 5th: The House of the Seven Tails


George McVey said...

Mel was this book listed as Christian fiction?

Melanie said...

No, it was listed as contemporary fiction.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like there are characters in these stories who will stick with you for a long time. I'm glad you enjoyed the book!

Thanks for being on the tour.

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