Reviews - What do customers think about A Soldier's Daughter?
Review of A Soldier's Daughter, poems by Lois Brown Klein May 16, 2008
When a father dies, a shocked and grieving mother cannot summon the presence to address her children's grief. In this way, at least temporarily, a child loses both parents at once. Further, in a traditional community where the father/husband is the place holder, the orphaned family may be stripped of status and become stranded.
In her first full-length book of poems, A Soldier's Daughter, Lois Brown Klein speaks with crystal memory and heartbreaking child-weariness of her own orphanhood. Killed during WWII in an accidental barracks fire, her surgeon father leaves behind a wife and three small daughters, who struggle to keep on. Her love lost and her life's expectations shattered, the widowed mother makes no attempt to explain their father's death to the girls, who nevertheless absorb their mother's shock and suffer their father's absence (The child isn't told). When their mother does not re-engage, the children are left to their own devices, creating meaning out of mundane experience (Transported).
In Part I, Klein outlines the bleakness of early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence. Under the hazy vigilance of their mother, the girls fall prey to social ostracism and suffer the absence of male protection and mentoring (Fathers' Hands, Flirting, Uncle Max). Feeling different, alone and unsupported in her sadness, the child longs for a father to make things right. At some point, she realizes that her mother will not return from grief (The Expedition); and, even later, that she must instead become her mother's guardian (My Mother's Birthstone). Still, at each turn in the road, the child holds out hope for a sense of belonging and approval (Unpacking).
In Part II, the author moves into adulthood, still carrying within her the unaddressed longing of the child (Without). As she navigates through young adulthood, she looks for others who can give her the grounding and safe harbor she lacks (Someone). Not finding these others, the woman undertakes the emotional work necessary to construct her best guess at wholeness. This is not presented as a straight road to self-redemption, but the poems progress with tentative steps and reversions to the past, much as we do in real life (The Sometime Landscape). To her credit, Klein does not force an arrival. Rather, through a gradual acceptance of the past, she begins to gain access to the goodness of her present life (Indestructible Seed, The Time of Half-Awake); and the lost sweet hours of her youth (What Pleases Us). The bare honesty of Klein's poetic voice is affecting throughout.
It is a celebration of the poet's tenacity and courage that she comes forth with this beautiful book. The first pages are saturated with loneliness, and therefore may be most effective if read like a book of hours, one or two poems a day. These poems would be a helpful companion to any adult--young or not so young--who has lost a parent. They would be helpful to any bereft mother or father who must raise children on their own. They would be helpful to any person serving as counsellor to members of such a family. Finally, the poems would serve as inspiration to any person who has struggled to integrate loss. And who among us has not?
"A Soldier's Daughter" Apr 6, 2008
Lois Brown Klein's father's death in WWII left an empty hole of longing which can be felt not only by children of soldiers, but by all children left abandoned by a loved one due to circumstances barely understood by a child. Her struggles and that of her mother and siblings to somehow cope with this dreadful situation took different forms in each person and left me awash in empathy, then understanding and finally in inspiration for the resilience of their humanity. I found this little book incredibly powerful and worthwhile and makes me think of all the children of our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan who may be facing these same daunting challenges in order to feel whole in life.