It was difficult to follow Author Clint Van Winkle’s narrative at times as it jumped from present-day to memories of his experiences (real or imagined) as a Marine in Iraq.
The memories included those of a little girl in a white-and-red-striped shirt that the Marine may have killed, starving soldiers scouring garbage-ridden streets for food, the author nearly stepping on an explosive and stepping in the middle of what was left of a Marine killed in combat.
It was difficult to separate the horrors between what was real and what was flashback, but that is what made the book amazing. Anyone who has studied or experienced Post-traumatic Stress Disorder understands that the back-and-forth that makes you feel like you’re going crazy is a primary symptom of the mental disorder.
After reading less than a chapter of the book, I discussed its contents with a friend who serves in the Army. I wanted to know if it was overblown. I discovered that it is not. Van Winkle gives an honest look at what it’s like to be a combat Marine during wartime and upon return home. Anyone with an opinion about the war should read this book and see if it alters their view. Anyone who has ever casually dismissed a veteran should do the same.
We send these men and women to places they’ve never even heard of to fight for something intangible. We train them to kill, let them loose and tell them to be honorable but not to die. We arm them with equipment that fails, poor medical treatments and without enough food or supplies to survive. We tell them to kill anything that threatens them–men, women, children, animals… We show them that they might accidentally kill one another. Then we bring them home and tell them to go back to life as it was before. When they can’t, we give them second-class treatment and view them as violent, angry and dangerous.
Soft Spots isn’t about how war is wrong or right. It’s a courageous memoir about those who survive but can’t live.