War and its aftermath is a deep, deep well for stories about devotion to duty, sacrifice, strength of character, friendship and love as well as violence, betrayal and loss. Perhaps it’s the uncertainty of war that brings this urgency to situations and depth to characters.
Tracey Cramer-Kelly successfully weaves these emotions together in her poignant book, True Surrender, where we enter the world of Major Aaron Bricewick. After enduring capture and torture by terrorists in Afghanistan, and ultimate rescue by his fellow soldiers, Bricewick returns to the states wounded both physically and mentally. As may be typical of combat veterans, his stubbornness and outward self-confidence mask his vulnerability.
Perhaps it’s because of the author’s Army Reserve medic experience, but I found the descriptive side story of Bricewick’s leg amputation with its phantom pain, adjustment to prosthetics, acceptance of the reality of a lost limb and the limits it places on career and personal life, to offer raw insight into a world too many of our war wounded face and so few of us civilians can imagine.
Bricewick’s amputation brings him together with his former lover, Holly Rossiter, a prosthetist (artificial limb maker) at Holbrook Medical Center in California. But the amputation also serves as a metaphor for his life at this point: cut off emotionally from those around him, caught off balance by the betrayal of those he trusted, and in need of support from loved ones, no matter how painful it is for his independent self to admit.
Mix this with a mystery to be solved, an endearing and sensual love story, and a renewal of faith that had been long forgotten and True Surrender becomes a compelling and entertaining story. I couldn’t put it down.
Reviewed by: Gail Chatfield (2012)
When Major Aaron Bricewick is rescued from Afghanistan terrorists, he thinks the worst is over. But his personal journey is just beginning... The first surprise is the amputation of one of his legs. The second is the woman he left behind, now a widow with a 4-year-old son - and his new prosthetist (artificial limb maker). He vows that losing his leg won't derail his career. But maintaining his outward appearance as a got-it-together officer becomes increasingly difficult as he faces one personal demon after another - and sees his career aspirations slipping away. And though he has no intention of expanding his life to include a woman, his heart has other ideas - and he finds himself questioning the very foundation of his personal beliefs. When violence - and unexpected redemption - touch his life again, Aaron must make a stand. Which will he choose: duty or love?