Special note: In honor of Veterans, Denise Kahn is donating all the sales from Warrior Music, from November 8-15, to the special Veterans group, Warrior Cry Music Project. Please click here for the interview I did with Denise about her cause and her reasons for writing this book.
Review of Warrior Music
War and love are antithetical to one another as concepts, but are classic topics for novels about the times when countries engage in conflict against one another. Denise Kahn melds two of her loves–her son and music–into this novel about the Iraq War. The story could be called a romance because of the love that exudes between several different couples, but in particular, the young man Max and the smart and talented Samantha.
It will soon be categorized as a historical novel because it superbly chronicles the life of a soldier in the desert of Iraq, post 9/11. It’s hard to believe that the sunny September day that changed so many lives forever occurred more than fourteen years ago. But it’s true, and in this novel, Ms. Kahn captures the spirit that embraces the young when a country is pushed into war. Just like after Pearl Harbor, the young men and women of the United States eagerly signed up for duty to serve. It is this love of country that brings them into danger and disaster every moment of their lives when they are at the battlefront.
For Max, the son of famous parents, it is his call to manhood from a childhood of self-indulgent behavior. For Samantha, it is the call to belong to something after the death of her parents. Both of them suffer and both of them do it willingly. Their paths cross and the love of music both of them share brings them closer. It is the passion of the music that lures them back together again when war does its inevitable separations.
Ms. Kahn’s son is a veteran of the Iraq War, and this novel is her love song to him. Her pride of him and all veterans shines through in this novel of love, war, and music. One of my favorite lines from the book, remains with me. Max tells his friend Haf, “Music is a rainbow, Haf, with all the colors that merge together flawlessly. If everyone saw it as you and I do, we would have the world’s most beautiful symphony.”
The mystical quality I enjoyed in Ms. Kahn’s Spilt Second Lifetime is present here in a few places, but particularly when Max’s mother, Davina, imagines she can see the souls of her ancestral musicians as Max and other soldiers play for the troops. “They were not only great warriors, they were also magnificent musicians,” Kahn writes. From Max’s great-grandfather in World War I to his grandfather in World War II, warrior music is created and united through the ages.
The descriptions of war are graphic and powerful. I imagine the suffering of Davina while her son is at war, echoes what Ms. Kahn must have felt when her son was in Iraq. She captures the nerves, the nightmares, and the tortures in excruciating detail.
From Boston to New Orleans to Iraq and back home again, Warrior Music soothes and celebrates those who serve.
Thank you, Veterans. You are the best of our country.