Friday, August 19, 2016

Review of Tears of Abraham by Sean T. Smith

America is torn apart by civil war.  The United States are anything but as countryman fights countryman.  At the center of it all is a battle hardened soldier who is fighting to save his marriage and fighting to save his country......Lincoln must be the president right?  This must be set in 1861, right?

Wrong.  Northeast Florida writer Sean T. Smith's latest novel, Tears of Abraham, explores America in the not to distant future as it is torn apart by a second Civil War.  At the center of the story is Henry Wilkins, a soldier in an elite, highly classified counter-terror unit.  PTSD, frequent absences, and the secretive nature of his job have all taken a toll on his marriage to Suzanne, who has drawn up divorce papers.  The government is dissolving as quickly as their marriage.  The President declares martial law, states begin the move towards secession, and bombs destroy Washington D.C. and San Francisco.  Henry's unit is ambushed and mostly wiped out.  He and another survivor begin the treacherous journey from Canada, where their commander had taken them in an ill-fated attempt to hide, back to their respective homes.  For Henry, home is the Florida Keys, where he can only hope that Suzanne and their daughter Taylor are safe  and still waiting for him.  Along the way, the novel explores the lives and fates of several minor characters who are nevertheless well developed and starkly realistic.

Originally from Ontario, Canada, Sean T. Smith moved to Miami, Florida and attended the University of Florida in Gainesville.  After pursuing a music career in Nashville, he moved back to Florida, where he raises his family and writes.  He is currently working on his fifth novel.  To learn more about him, visit his personal blog and make sure to check out his Q &A on the  Author Interview page of this blog, one of the most interesting ones I've ever done.

Apocalyptic fiction is one of my absolute favorite genres, and the fact that reviewing Tears of Abraham allows me the chance to feature a local author, is an added bonus.  The novel deals with political issues without being heavy handed or biased and the characters in the novel are well-rounded, from a delusional redneck to a struggling black man, to the main characters themselves.  One of my favorite chapters is entitled "Semper Fi", which opens with Henry's internal struggle at being caught up in a civil war which pits him against an enemy that he normally would have been fighting with, not against.  "Henry Wilkins was willing to give his life for his country, but at the moment, his country seemed intent on killing him.  This did not sit well in the jagged corners of his soul, humping through the Canadian Rockies with drones hunting him." The narrative then expounds into a poignant memory of Henry and his father.  What was sobering for me as I read these lines, is the fact that although a work of fiction, the political chaos that leads up to this is disturbingly close to the climate in our country today.  Science fiction and apocalyptic fiction writers are often uncomfortable prophets of the future, quietly warning readers of our possible fate while there is still time to change paths.  As readers, our job is to heed the warnings and not merely dismiss them as existing only between the pages of a book or in the minds of the authors.  Tears of Abraham reminds us that we are stronger together than apart and that in the current climate of political divisiveness, our focus on foreign terrorism may blind us to the fact that the worst enemy may lie within.

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