Title: Thirty Days with My Father: Finding Peace from Wartime PTSD
Author: Christal Presley, Phd
Reviewer: Cathryn J. Prince
ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0757316468
A soldier's return home from war is often just the beginning of another, more internalized battle. In her memoir, Presley recounts 30 days of interviews with her Vietnam veteran father—conversations in which she attempts to understand her father, his PTSD, and her own lifetime of vicarious traumas. Each day is given a chapter, and each chapter concludes with a "Journal" entry that revisits Presley's tumultuous childhood memories. What emerges from this format is a harrowing portrait of the past's ability to haunt the present; Presley's descriptions of the troubled child she was blend all too easily into the confused and searching adult she becomes. In some cases, she is compelled to go to a Veterans Affairs hospital and even to Vietnam. The book's division into 30 days feels increasingly forced and fragmented with the passing of each chapter. Such a story is, by its very nature, fractured, and by the end of the book Presley's father is no less tormented than he was at Day One. Yet Presley has found stability in her father's story, and her willingness to share it—and her own revelations—will be appreciated by readers who deal with any form of wartime PTSD.