jeffrey lent’s ‘before we sleep’ follows the long shadow of war

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the devastation wrought by war and the agonizing complexities of love are two of jeffrey lent’s central themes, echoing through his fiction from his powerful debut, “in the fall,” through his 2015 masterpiece, “a slant of light.” his new novel, “before we sleep,” examines these charged topics primarily through a woman’s eyes, as ruth snow grapples with her husband oliver’s traumatized return from world war ii. the couple’s struggles across two decades are counterpointed by their daughter’s one-week road trip in the summer of 1967, when another war is rending the fabric of american society. (bloomsbury)as the novel opens, katey, just 17 years old, leaves her parents’ home in vermont in the middle of the night. her departure is prompted by a stunning family revelation that doesn’t become clear until fairly late in the book, shortly after we finally get the particulars of the wartime incident that permanently damaged oliver. the journey toward these linked revelations gives the novel its forward momentum, but the specifics are not really the point. we don’t need to know what katey has been told to see that it has led her to question what she thought she kne......

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