Magazine article World Literature Today

Along the Watchtower

Magazine article World Literature Today

Along the Watchtower

Article excerpt

Constance Squires. Along the Watchtower. New York. Riverhead. 2011. isbn 9781594485237

In her first novel, Constance Squires explores a subject with which she is quite familiar: the challenges of growing up in a military family. The novel is told through the perspective of Lucinda Collins, who is thirteen when her family is transferred to Grafenwoehr, West Germany. Lucinda is an immediately likeable character. Army life, combined with epileptic seizures, has made her wise and selfaware beyond her years. She is the peacemaker, routinely apologizing for her father's harshness. At the same time, she is a typical teen with the requisite poor judgment, as seen when she sneaks into the all-male barracks in search of rock-and-roll cassettes.

Squires develops each character through rich yet economical language. Through the novel's three parts, we see how Lucinda is shaped by military life, the Cold War, and her parents' differing philosophies. Her mother, the would-be hippie, is simultaneously full of empathy and rage. Her father, a Vietnam veteran, constantly espouses codes for living, yet he claims that "rules are for other people." If Lucinda is the product of her military upbringing, her parents are products of self-sacrifice and bitterness. …

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