It’s not every day that I read a story that I simply can’t stop talking about. Benjamin W. Bass’ Alone in the Light is one such story.
As I reader, I was able to enter a world completely foreign to me. My father is a Navy Veteran and served in the National Guard. My best friend is also a Navy Veteran. De facto, I’ve visited the VA hospitals in Perry Point and Baltimore on several occasions and have a vicarious understanding of the hell veterans go through to simply receive decent care in this country.
All that being said, the world and experience of a Veteran suffering from PTSD, is one completely foreign to me. This despite having an uncle who is a Marine Veteran with PTSD. The experience is something he’s never talked about.
Benjamin W. Bass masterfully places the reader right there with Josh and Mary. Josh deals with PTSD directly and we see him hit rock bottom. Mary deals with an incredible amount of loss and the difficulty of adjusting to life after service. In both instances, Mr. Bass places the reader right there in the action and drama of the experience. Through both of their present tense, first-person narratives, I can, vicariously, understand the psychology, the emotion, and the trauma that comes with life after military service.
This story could have very easily been a repetitive cycle of flashbacks and downward spirals. But it’s not. The story builds and develops as the characters are trying desperately to keep their lives together, to hold onto what they’ve lost, and move forward with life. In some instances they are stuck, in others, they plunge forward. Through it all, I felt like I was a part of their experience. I think the choice of first-person narrative and present tense helps with making the reader a present participant of the drama unfolding.
But, don’t say this is just a story about PTSD. It’s so much more than that. It’s a story about Josh and Mary, two very human characters, finding each other and lighting each other’s lives in the midsts of darkness. It’s a story about them losing each other again and suffering through some very dark times. Then, a story about finding each other again and struggling to pick up where they’ve left off. Only, everything has changed.