If you are craving a bit of Big Chill nostalgia this summer, The Gunners is a great choice! Childhood relationships are revisited when six friends return to their hometown for a funeral of one of their own who committed suicide. Each character feels some responsibility for the departure of their late friend and they reveal secrets from their past they had kept from others in the group. As much as they knew and loved each other as kids, their sometimes distorted perspectives were shaped by what they didn’t know. Alternating between childhood and current timing, Rebecca Kauffman shows us how we base our lives on our own personal reality, and what seems to be true from a distance may not always be the truth when examined up close.
The friend circle dissipated when they were teenagers because one of the six left the group without explanation, causing a fracture not to be repaired. Each went on with their lives separately, feeling blame, shame and regret, but now, reconnecting over tragedy, the friends share all that they have been hiding over the years as they spend the night together following the funeral.
Mickey, the most developed character, has remained in his hometown and is a late bloomer; he comes into his own at thirty when he has to face his failing eyesight and his difficult relationship with his father. He is a lonely guy with an average job, a quiet life and now, tragically he is going blind. The rekindled childhood friendships he regains boost his morale, and the secrets, now told, bolster his strength, shed light on his family situation and increase his understanding of his own existence and purpose.
The Gunners is a beautiful story of old friends and memories of youth, and how they serve as the foundation of adult relationships, bringing understanding, warm feelings, comfort and support to our lives as we get older. I highly recommend this book, especially of you are going to your high school reunion any time soon!
About the Author:
Rebecca Kauffman is originally from rural northeastern Ohio. She received her B.A. from the Manhattan School of Music in Violin Performance, and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from NYU. She currently lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.