The World Played Chess, a PREVIEW by Amy

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The World Played Chess
Robert Dugoni
400 pages
Lake Union Publishing
Available 9/14/21

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Raw, honest, and beautifully haunting. This story completed captivated me, and these characters evoked visceral, complex emotion within me. Dugoni has created a true masterpiece that is a must read.

“Sometimes we know so little, we aren’t even playing the same game as everyone else.”
There comes a time when every boy must become a man. Peter Pan cannot remain. But that transition, while crucial, is often ambiguous and uncertain. One day a boy. The next a man. One day carefree. The next full of weight and responsibility. There is no manual to guide a person from youth into adulthood. Or at least there wasn’t until this book.

Dugoni tackles the transition from boyhood into manhood in a heartfelt, poignant, and somber manner. It’s heartbreaking and hope filled. As I read, my mind raced with a (long) list of people who *must* read this book…boy moms, men, male teenagers on the verge of adulthood… everyone!

The story is told through three perspectives and timeframes:
-William’s war journals from 1967
-Vincent’s recollections from working alongside William in 1979
-Vincent reading William’s war journal as his son, Beau, passes from boyhood into manhood in 2015

Three young men thrust into adulthood: William, Vincent, and Beau. Each man experiences a vastly different emergence. Each must battle the weight of new responsibility. Dugoni expertly crafts these characters. They are multifaceted, complex, and flawed. Their emotions are raw and intricate as they flounder through this transition learning to manage the conflict they feel within. Each character is vivid and real. I rooted for them, cried alongside them, and didn’t want to let them go at the end of the book. But I must say, William was my favorite by far. What a story of redemption and hope! I wanted to thrust myself through the book and give him the biggest hug.

The message of this book is a beautiful and necessary one:
Lives can be impacted for the better through the simple act of kindness. Often that kindness is nothing more than really listening.

We are a military family. My husband served honorably until retirement and his war wounds continue to remind him of that service after-the-fact. He chose his service. He willingly decided to put self aside for love of country and his fellow man. I was born after the Vietnam War ended. As I grew up, I heard stories of the war and what those soldiers, most of which had no choice in the matter, endured. 18 year olds. Barely out of childhood. Used and abused by their own country. Abandoned by those who didn’t agree with their sacrifices. They never were given the choice my husband was. Reading William’s account brings life to that unchosen sacrifice. It well honors those men. And I am so grateful to Dugoni for bringing their collective story to light, showing the utmost respect for them, and giving them a place of distinction they well deserve.

I have the BIGGEST book hangover from this gem. It’s both the best and worst feeling. Best because I was able to experience this masterpiece. Worst because it’s over. This book will stay with me for a very long time.

Quote worthy:
“Growing old is a privilege, not a right.”
“No situation is hopeless unless we let it be.”

Add this one to your TBR pile, my friends.  You won’t be sorry!

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