My apologies for posting this late due to technical issues and a common cold of epic proportions.
Welcome to my stop on the book tour for the amazing novel, Of Metal and Earth, by Jennifer M. Lane. I don’t recall the last time I struggled so much to write a review, but I am sitting here trying to find the words to convey what an absolutely incredible novel this is. I don’t presume to think I can do it justice, but I will certainly try.
This novel begins in 1964 when James is returning to his small hometown from Vietnam. Broken and guilt-ridden of being the only one of his friends that made it back from the war, James attempts to rebuild his life and eventually buys a little green Jeep. This Jeep serves as a sign of hope and starting over and is loved and cared for by James for many years until, unfortunately, circumstances require that he sell it. Over the years James has to learn to work on and take care of his Jeep and started recording maintenance and important information in a notebook, even adding in some narratives and photos. When James sells the Jeep, he gives the new owner the notebook, complete with the original bill of sale and the pen James used to sign it, and asks that he also update the notebook and keep it with the Jeep. Thus begins a series of stories about the Jeep and its owners that is an honest, moving, and beautifully written novel about joy, regrets, losses, and finding hope again.
I am typically a very fast reader and fly through books, but this one I read over several days. The writing was flawless and flowed well, so it wasn’t a challenging read. I think I just wanted to take my time to really embrace the characters and the stories. The book is divided into parts or chapters each time the Jeep changed ownership and I found myself wanting to set the book down and think about each part I had just finished, before moving forward in time and meeting the next owner.
Lane’s characterization was outstanding, completely bringing to life each of the characters so that I felt as if I could see and hear them myself. From the beginning with James until the last story about Alex and Kate, each character and the challenge(s) in their life was unique, important, and involved some sort of change whether physically, emotionally, family-related, career-related, and so on. Even the Jeep seemed to have a life of its own, and like a person or a family, it went through ups and downs, was treated differently, and was loved differently depending on the owner. However, regardless of which owner it was, the Jeep served its purpose and impacted their lives.
Of Metal and Earth invoked emotions ranging from laughter, to tears, to frustration, to happiness. The stories of these characters and their Jeep will stay with me long after this and this is a novel that numerous people will be receiving from me as gifts this year. I can’t think of a specific audience that would enjoy this novel, it is simply a must-read for everyone. I know without a doubt that all readers will identify with one or more of the characters, and as far as the other characters, there are wonderful lessons to be learned. Bravo to the wonderfully talented Jennifer M. Lane for creating such a touching novel that I will not ever forget.
P.S. My hubby and I just bought a vintage camper that we are starting to restore/revamp and just as James did with his Jeep, we have already started assembling its original paperwork with our own notes, narratives, photos, and experiences. Thanks for putting the thought in my head!
*Many thanks to RABT and the author providing this review copy in exchange for my honest review!
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