Losing a loved one to the chaos of war would be devastating enough, but lingering doubt as to whether a husband were alive or dead could slowly consume a wife. Especially if her last words to him were an ultimatum: Choose his reporting work, or her. In The Wind Is Not a River, Helen and John Easley find themselves caught in the upheaval of World War II, separated emotionally and physically by the lengths to which he will go for a story.
John poses as a lieutenant to sneak into the Japanese-occupied Aleutian Islands, hoping to report about this little-known theatre of the war—which the Americans would prefer the press keep quiet about. His plane goes down on the island of Attu as the novel opens, and instantly the reader is thrust into his fight for survival. The weather is unrelenting and unstable, the only food available is what he and the crash’s only other survivor, young airman Karl, can catch and kill, and discovery by Japanese soldiers is a daily threat.
Helen, at home with her guilt and her ill father, eventually can take the waiting no longer. She, too, lies her way north to Alaska, joining a troupe of USO Swingettes, in a passionate effort to find John.
Canadian writer Brian Payton deftly juxtaposes Helen’s and John’s separate struggles to stay alive and sane against forces that would render them otherwise. Set against a meticulously described Alaskan setting, each harrowing or quietly painful minute is portrayed in realistic detail. John’s ordeal proves miraculous and heartbreaking, told in passages that are sometimes difficult to read due to their intensity of rawness or sorrow. The book arcs poetically across the distance between Helen and John, drawing out the separation that they (and the reader) can hardly bear.Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.
To assuage his grief over his brother's death fighting in Europe, journalist John Easley has headed north to investigate Japan's invasion of Alaska's Aleutian Island during World War II (it really happened). When he joins a bombing run and is plane is shot down, John must struggle to survive in a harsh environment while avoiding capture. His wife, meanwhile, is determined to find him and bring him home. Fine writing (Payton's Shadow of the Bear was an NPR Pearl's Pick), Ecco's recent track record, and the 100,000-copy first printing all recommend this work.[Page 56]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Still grieving the loss of his brother who went down with his plane over the English Channel, journalist John Easley, determined to make sense of the war, dons his brother's uniform and heads to the territory of Alaska where he hopes to document the Japanese invasion of the Aleutian Islands. While John is accompanying a crew on a bombing run, his plane is downed over the island of Attu. He and one other survivor of the crash endure a desperate struggle to survive the cold and hunger while evading patrolling Japanese soldiers. Meanwhile John's wife, Helen, leaves her ailing father in Seattle and joins a USO show, hoping to make her way to Alaska to search for her husband. This moving and powerfully written novel explores themes of war, life and death, morality, and love in a unique World War II battleground that very few people outside Alaska know about or remember. VERDICT Payton, known for his nonfiction works Shadow of the Bear and The Ice Passage, has written a suspenseful, beautifully researched title that readers will want to devour in one sitting. As a nearly lifelong inhabitant of Alaska and having spent three years on Adak in the Aleutians, this reviewer was particularly gratified by the accuracy of the author's portrayal of the land and people of the "birthplace of the winds." Bravo! [See Prepub Alert, 7/22/13.]--Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage P.L., AK[Page 84]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This top-notch WWII historical novel from Vancouver-based writer Payton (Hail Mary Corner) involves the little-remembered Japanese invasion and partial occupation of Alaska's Aleutian Islands. War correspondent John Easley is shot down in a seaplane along with six crewmembers in April 1943, just off the barren island of Attu. He and the only other survivor, young Texan aviator Karl Bitburg, hunker down in a beachside cave while hiding from the Japanese. Meanwhile, John's wife, Helen, is living in Seattle while helping her father, Joe, recuperate from a stroke. She resolves to search for her missing husband, from whom she's been separated ever since she delivered an ultimatum to him to choose between her and his work. John had chosen to leave Helen and continue what he regarded as his patriotic duty as a war reporter, spurred on by the memory of his kid brother Warren's fatal crash into the English Channel while serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Helen joins a USO troupe assigned to Alaska but finds the strict censorship of military information a hindrance to her desperate quest. Payton has delivered a richly detailed, vividly resonant chronicle of war's effect on ordinary people's lives. Agent: Victoria Sanders, Victoria Sanders & Associates. (Jan.)[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC