The Reason You're Alive

In The Reason You're Alive by Matthew Quick (Love May Fail), 68-year-old David Granger is a politically incorrect, profane, gun-toting, right-wing widower with a very dark past. He is haunted by murky memories of the atrocities he committed while serving in the Vietnam War and blames himself for his wife's suicide. When he crashes his BMW at the beginning of the novel, he discovers he has a brain tumor that resulted from his exposure to Agent Orange. This brush with mortality sets him on a crusade to improve his relationships with best friend Sue, a Vietnamese American; his son, Hank; and adoring granddaughter Ella. David also seeks to make amends with Clayton Fire Bear, a fellow Vietnam vet who used to scalp the enemy soldiers he killed--and whose hunting knife he stole.

David's attempt to maneuver these pieces of his life with a fragile heart and fragile psyche resonate genuinely and suspensefully. The novel builds toward his confrontation with Fire Bear, tugging at readers' heartstrings and offering food for thought about current political rhetoric. David is a memorable protagonist who mixes prejudiced rants with true wisdom and noble behavior. Quick insightfully presents a person who is more than the sum of his personal politics, showing how selfish instincts battle nobler ones--a valuable lesson in increasingly politically stratified times. --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant

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