Genre: Currently #2657 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank for Kindle Store, Kindle eBooks, Literature & Fiction, Literary Fiction, Sagas
Sold By: Amazon Digital Services, LLC
Publication Date: To be published August 21, 2017
Source: ARC submitted by author for review
Title and Cover: Fender – Cover is immensely appealing
Brent Jones has exceeded expectation that his sophomore novel, Fender, might best the debut. This emotionally packed literary saga of Brennan Glover, a protagonist who suffers unspeakable loss, will have you grabbing for a hankie. Fender is a Beagle, but he is no ordinary dog. He manages to (albeit unintentionally) save the life of his human counterpart–his beloved man human–part of his second family. The author skillfully conveys Fender’s conversations with Brennan, who has lost his wife and daughter in the horrific accident in which Fender alone survived. Jones skillfully maneuvers Brennan’s journey through the heartbreaking process of grief from denial and anger to acceptance. (And anyone who has suffered profound loss would have no problem identifying the steps: (1) Denial, (2) Anger, (3) Bargaining, (4) Depression, and finally (5) Acceptance.)
We are introduced to Franky and Rocco his closest friends immediately. They are immensely sensitive to the situation, and it is they who receive the brunt of his anger. The brutal question they cannot adequately answer is why. But it is Franky and Rocco who lovingly convince him to join them on the road trip across the country that they’d discussed some time prior. And it is his neighbor who quietly affirms, “…sometimes we have to get away from all we know just to find our way home again.” He wonders; should he go, his grief still so raw?
Fender heats up the page from the first chapter. Rosie Hutchins and Abby, his wife and six year old, are irretrievably gone. Brennan’s dog is the only survivor of the crash, not the first time the Beagle has survived, having been literally rescued off the streets by Brennan a short time prior to meeting Rosie, some nine (almost ten) years before.
The author explores in alternating chapters how Brennan and Rosie meet. Her society, however, is different from his own; privileged, promoted, and supported by two loving parents of some status in upstate New York. Her parents indicate their displeasure of her selection of Brennan with proffered bits of insensitivity.
I suspect men and women confront grief of this extent in different ways; women given to long bouts of tears. Men may be more physical, but women no less destructive. Brennan knows drinking is not the answer–he tries to drown it–but sober is worse. The only thing that keeps him moving at all is the dog and his requirements for life. He and Fender have shared their past, those dog to human heart-to-hearts, Fender relating in detail the relationship of his previous humans and the ordeal that led to his escape. Brennan knows he cannot go on any trip and leave Fender behind.
The trio leaves very quickly–no stalling–no rethinking and they take Fender. As they progress across the U.S. towards California, playing tourist and sightseeing, they briefly hit popular sites across the Midwest and Seattle then south to San Francisco. Brennan continues to lash out at Franky and Rocco and they quietly weather the brunt of Brennan’s torment. Fender, a dog of twelve years, however, begins to show signs of declining health. An urgent visit to a vet confirms he has a serious issue.
True friends, his buddies exhibit the patience of Job, dealing with a man who can’t be consoled, and accept with grace that the health of Fender may cut their trip short. The tension-filled dynamics between men finally explode and in the fit of crisis Rocco reveals a secret. This one may mean the termination of a life-long friendship and further tears at a wound not yet healing.
Fender is powerful and profane and masterfully examines the overwhelming human condition of stupefying grief. Blinded by his pain, Brennan short-sightedly views his friends. Brennan got an education, and while he “married well” and escaped their collective early beginnings, his friends did not. They are blue-collar workers with limited income. This trip represents a life-saving mission for their buddy at considerable sacrifice.
It is the depth of the plunge in this human condition that the author closely examines with insight and sensitivity into the individual’s experience. This literary scrutiny pulls even a balky reader along for the ride, leaving you weak from surviving and elated for having won.
Brent Jones cunningly weaves emotions, turmoil, and his character’s personalities into a triumph of spirit. We are also part of a pack–human beings–and it is the support of the pack that sees us through even the worst that life offers. Present in the background, the ever-potent connection to our animals.
I received an ARC from the author for an honest review of his new book. I loved it–the mission and the message. Warning: it is peppered with course language–still–phew! What a book and I can heartily recommend!
Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars
The Author: Brent Jones has always been drawn to writing, winning a national creative competition at the age of fourteen. At the age of 31, he gave up a successful freelance career as a social media manager to pursue creative writing full time. His debut novel was published February 21, 2017. Jones is married and living in Fort Erie, Canada. He claims to be a “mediocre” guitarist and the owner of two dogs–neither a Beagle. This author had a strong, successful start and continues to grow with this intense literary offering. Subscribe to his newsletter (AuthorBrentJones.com) or follow him on social media (@AuthorBrentJ) for updates. ©2017 Virginia Williams