Neighborhood Heroes

Rielly, Morgan. Neighborhood Heroes: Life Lessons From Maine’s Greatest Generation. Camden: Down East Books, 2014.

Reason read: As part of the Early Review program for LibraryThing I occasionally review books for them. This was the May selection I won.

As someone who grew up on an island off the coast of Maine and still has a strong connection to the entire state, I really enjoyed Rielly’s book. I could identify with most of the places he mentions. But, location isn’t what I enjoyed the most. In my day kids were taught to respect their elders and you can tell Rielly really respected the 26 men and women he interviewed for his book, Neighborhood Heroes. His attention to detail is exemplary and his choice of words conveys the significance of not only the military work these veterans conducted, but the strength of their personal lives as well. It wasn’t enough to transcribe their professional lives; the training tales and battle stories (no matter their branch in the military); Rielly also was thoughtful enough to convey their personal dedication to marriage, family, education and meaningful employment after serving their country in the war. Sadly, a few of Rielly’s interviewees have since passed away. It is a shame they won’t be able to see the published book. I only hope they understood what a great tribute Neighborhood Heroes is to their generation.

As an aside, the cover of the book (by Scott Mansfield) is stunning once I really saw it. The photograph is a little dark.

Here’s the only part of Neighborhood Heroes I will quote. From the front matter, “A portion of the author’s royalties is donated to the Travis Mills Project and the National Veterans Family Center…” Curious about this I Googled Travis Mills and discovered he is a retired United States Staff Sergeant who survived an IED blast in Afghanistan in 2012. He is one of only five quadruple amputees to survive such massive injuries.

Confessional: I started reading this shortly after June 6th while CNN and other “reality” channels were constantly showing World War II documentaries. The timing of Rielly’s Neighborhood Heroes was a blessing and a curse. While I was caught up in the pomp and circumstance of remembrance it was also redundant – overkill, if you will. I was a little “war weary” by the end of it all. But, that’s my doing entirely.



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