The Gunners by Rebecca Kauffman
by Rebecca Kauffman
Counterpoint (March 20, 2018)
Advance copy provided by publisher
Having endured several unsatisfying experiences, I hesitate to pick up an author's sophomore effort when I'm not already familiar with their work. Rebecca Kauffman has defied those odds; to say that this novel exceeded my expectations is a major understatement. The Gunners is spectacularly stunning and, several days after finishing, I continue to think about these characters, mull over their stories, and desperately grasp for a definition or description worthy of its significance.
At just 224 pages, it is a relatively quick read; I have no doubt I could have easily finished it in one sitting, but I felt compelled to slow down and savor every moment, every truth revealed. While some have mentioned a Big Chill-esque vibe, with five childhood friends reuniting for the funeral of the sixth member of their group, The Gunners is set apart thanks to the brilliant way in which Kauffman takes readers on a journey back and forth, alternating between present and past, sharing the vulnerability of each character in such a relatable, authentic way.
There is nothing tidy about their stories; these characters' lives are messy, imperfect and, at times, heartbreaking. Having said that, Kauffman keeps things from veering into dark territory with a perfect balance of heart and humor; this is a book that I wanted to devour without ever reaching the end.