By: Tom Sullivan
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 2009
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: August 2009
Antwone Carver was a dedicated U.S. Marine stationed in Iraq. One day, while traveling from Fallujah to Baghdad, the Humvee he and his friends were riding in hit an IED. The explosion killed the three other men and left Corporal Carver a parapalegic. Back in the States at the VA hospital, Carver has pushed his loving wife away and given up on life. Enter psychiatrist Brendan McCarthy.
Brendan has a successful private practice but is convinced by a friend to take on Carver’s case pro bono. His friend feels that because Brendan also suffered a terrible accident which resulted in his losing his sight, Carver will relate to him. Meeting Carver for the first time, Bendan is met with resistance. Is he really the best person to talk with Carver and bring him back from the brink?
Brendan’s seeing-eye dog Nelson accompanies his master everywhere, including the VA hospital. The well-mannered dog at first frightens the brave Marine, but slowly he learns to love the big, affable lab. Unfortunately, Carver continues to resist Brendan’s attempts to help. Will Brendan, with the help of Nelson, be able to convince Carver that life is worth living?
Alive Day gets off to a slow start as Brendan, after dealing with Nelson’s attempt to befriend a skunk, next deals with his son Brian’s problems at school. After Brian defends his father’s honor in a fight with another student at school, Brendan decides to go to the school with Nelson to educate the children (and the reader) about blindness. The story gets very preachy and unfortunately, that trend continues throughout the book. Dialog is sometimes strained as one character explains to the other problems with such things as VA hospitals, post-traumatic stress disorder, and treatment of the disabled. To explain the obstacles Carver must overcome to have some semblance of a sexual relationship with his wife, Brendan searches the internet and finds several sites with information which is then presented to the reader in a rather dull and technical manner, breaking the flow of the story.
For dog lovers attracted to this book because of the adorable lab on the cover, it may be a disappointment to learn that the dog is not the main subject of “Alive Day.” Indeed, there’s almost as much basketball in this story as there is interactions with Nelson. For those who enjoy a lot of back-and-forth between a psychiatrist and his patient, this book should provide a good, quick read.
Quill says: Not a lot of dog action, but an interesting story about rehabilitation and the power of love.