A Troubling Tale of One Woman Behind Iraqi Lines and Her Journey Home
I received a review copy of Enemy Combatant, and was attracted to it immediately because of its stunning cover art. I briefly skimmed the back face of the oversized paperback I held in my hand, looking for clues as to its content, but none were forthcoming. I was intrigued by more artful photography and the question, "Is she saving our country or destroying it?" I began to read.
Ron Albury's newly self-published novel, Enemy Combatant, begins in the unwinding of anti-terrorist agent, Samantha's, past self. As one of two siblings of a single mother, Samantha and her sister, Chris, live in shadows and silence, young girls whittled down into one, invisible presence trying to stay out of striking range of their drunken mother. One month to the day after 9/11, Chris is removed from the home and placed in state care following a brutal beating, and Samantha is left on her own, spending her days aimlessly wandering and contemplating suicide.
Samantha joins the military not to begin a new life, but to bring meaning to her death. What she discovers in basic training, however, is a level playing field with the other recruits, in which she was no longer identified as "the daughter of a drunken whore" or assigned temporary value based on her skills under the bleachers and on her knees.. Her former identity is stripped of her, and along with it, the inhibitions that kept her a prisoner of her low birth. She gives herself, willingly and in entirety, to the army, and is formed into a human weapon of worth and authentic, earned value.
With heart-rendering determination, Samantha resolves to adhere to the sense of purpose she's gained from her time serving our country, despite experiencing repeated disfiguring assaults. The decisiveness in which she remains intently focused on her role in eradicating terrorism was truly humbling and fostered in me a sense of gratitude for those who've served in the armed forces that I'd never before experienced a personal level. I can truly say with all honesty, that only halfway into this novel, the story within had changed me.
After her mission was ambushed, Samantha leaves Iraq worse for the wear and returns to the States. Struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), she is refused disability and her medical needs go unmet as she slips between the cracks. As powerful and intelligently written as I found Enemy Combatant to this point, I was unprepared for the character, Samantha's, continued battle on the homefront, where the badly disjointed crucible between nightmarish reality and the clarity of delusion exclude her from any other but the mission; to protect homeland security by any means possible.
***As a note, the author of this book, Ron Albury, has pledged to commit 50% of his own royalties from Enemy Combatant to benefit Iraq Veteran charities. It is available through Amazon in both Kindle and paperback, and is very reasonably priced. This title will challenge your perceptions and stay with you for days after you've read the last pages. Please consider making the small investment to purchase this book and to help vets.
A physical copy of this book was provided by the publisher or author for purposes of review.
Additional works include: Bisexual Vegetarian Zombies and a children's book, Message in a Bottle