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The War Within

The War Within - Yolanda Wallace Meredith (a Vietnam medical vet) is a grandmother to Jordan, who is an outspoken opponent of war and student at Berkeley. They are preparing to go on a road trip together which is what they do yearly over the summer to live and work in a new place of Jordan's choosing. I thought it was an interesting concept and really liked their interactions from the start, though it seemed highly unlikely Jordan would pick out the town where Meredith's former flame lived. It's possible I missed a reference in the narrative as to why she picked that place in particular, but I don't recall it. I could be wrong about that though.

Really well-developed story with Meredith's past that is told to her granddaughter during their travels. You learn about Meredith's evolving relationships with her future husband George as well as a woman she considers the love of her life. However, this book is primarily about the acceptance of yourself as well as learning to live with the judgment of others. The second half is more focused on Jordan and her need to determine if she is capable of living with people's perceptions and her ability to be satisfied living with a disabled veteran and the challenges associated with that. There's a lot of growth exhibited by the main and secondary characters, although I would have been happier with a little more transition for Jordan, in particular. She started the story being very gung ho about being anti-war and very outspoken then quickly changed course after moving to this new town with her grandmother and meeting Tatum, a local veteran. I genuinely liked the person she became during this summer, but I would have liked witnessing more of an arc. Aside from that, very well done with believable characterizations and conflicts.

This is a story of love and loss. However, it is more about the decisions we make in life and how those decisions involve not just our happiness but our fear of recrimination. It's about our ability to be self-aware enough to see our own shortcomings, and what we are prepared to live with in the face of imperfect circumstances. I've only read one other Yolanda Wallace book at this point, but I will definitely be picking up another one, as I enjoyed what she was able to accomplish with this one.