An Uncommon American Love Story

By John Henry Brebbia

CreateSpace 14.99 223 pages

 In the War Zone tells the story of Gibb Quinn, a streetwise Las Vegas native who moves to small-town Connecticut to run a local computer store. His life has taken him from fighting to survive in the In the War Zone, a pocket of Las Vegas known for its high death rate, and higher gang rate, all the way across the country to managing a run-down business in Chatham, Connecticut. It isn’t long before Gibb falls for the woman of a local drug dealer and causes quite a stir among the locals. Even worse, he takes a shining to the young, engaged daughter of a prominent family in Chatham, and begins a slow flirtatious relationship. Before long though, Gibb can’t balance his new job and dueling relationships, and everything falls apart. Gibb is forced to come to terms with his past life and embrace who he really is to protect the people he has come to love, in a town that never loved him.

 In the War Zone is an excellent second novel by John Henry Brebbia. The greatest strength is the author’s ability to create a character to which the reader is instantly engaged. In the example of Gibb, many of his past experiences and choices are things the reader can in no way relate to, but his desire to be accepted and loved are emotions anyone can understand. Gibb becomes a sort of Everyman, in whom the reader can see themselves. In this way In the War Zone becomes not a story about Gibb Quinn, but a story about everyone reading it. Who hasn’t pined for someone they could never have, and suffered the debilitating heartbreak when it finally becomes clear? This book keeps you reading long after bedtime not because of suspense or fast action, but because of the desire to see the outcome of these characters’ lives.

Finding fault with this title is challenging, because most of it rings so true with the reader. However, a few things kept it from being perfect. The major downside was the author’s tendency to use the phrase “said she” or “said he” when writing dialogue. It is a little thing, but when the reader is expecting to read “she said” or “he said”, it causes the writing and dialogue to slow down and not feel as smooth. The other deficiency is the other’s obvious abundance of knowledge regarding sailing. Nearly ten pages of the book are devoted to a scene involving a sailing ship in troubled weather. The scene itself is well crafted and intense to read, but there are so many sailing terms stuffed in that the average reader with no knowledge of sailing will get bored and probably skip over an otherwise fantastic event in the story.
A few deficiencies aside,  In the War Zone is an excellent read that ends all too quickly. John Henry Brebbia is obviously a gifted and capable writer, and this reviewer looks forward to the release of his next book.

Reviewed By Andrew Keyser

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