“Every American Should Read This Novel at Least Once!
The Last Jump: A Novel of World War Two
By John E. Nevola
In this fictional account of World War II, John E. Nevola manages to successfully combine the politics and economics of the time, the shifting roles in society, the sacrifices and hardships that were faced by both Soldiers and civilians and the frailty of life and love during this period of history. The novel begins when modern day journalist J.P Kilroy is summoned to the White House to stand in for his deceased father in receiving his Medal of Honor for his actions during World War II. While attending the ceremony, J.P recalls his promise to his mother just before her death, to reconnect with his father and discover the truth behind the secret she, his estranged father, and all their friends had kept since World War II. While at the medal ceremony, J.P. meets the men that his father had been closest to when they fought their way across Europe as members of both the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. After convincing his father’s war buddies to have dinner with him the night after the awards ceremony J.P. learns that, there is indeed a secret surrounding his father that the men all swore they would take to their graves. From there the book switches between modern day J.P. Kilroy, his father and friends fighting their way across Europe, their families in the U.S. and the roles that they played in supporting the war effort. As an active duty Soldier with four combat deployments and former member of the 82nd Airborne, many parts of this novel definitely returned me to times and places from my past. I was transported back to Airborne School, from the physical training pits to the 250 foot tower (the great Oongowa), from our mornings running in circles, but somehow always going uphill to feeling the air blast and opening shock after exiting the door on your first jump.
After reading Mr. Nevola’s novel and prior to writing this, I read several other people’s reviews of his work to gauge what comments had been made in the past. Of all the reviews I read, the only negative criticism that I felt was in any way justified, was one critics comment that it was hard to follow the story line initially as it switched back and forth between two main characters named John Kilroy and one of their son’s by the same name. I had the same thought at first, but once the reader recognizes that, the John Kilroy’s were all from different states, one was John Kilroy, one “Jake” Kilroy, and one “J.P.” Kilroy, the issue becomes null and void. Do not let this in any way dissuade you from enjoying this wonderful story.
Mr. Nevola has seemingly done the impossible by combining so many different aspects of a great story into one work. Within the pages of this book, there is truly something for everyone. The author started with a great story and added romance, loyalty, history, suspense, sacrifice, determination and long buried secrets into one tale. The novel immerses the reader in the climate and pulse of the nation and world during the war by viewing events through the eyes of the characters. While the novel does detail many of the battles and events of the war it does not make them seem like a history lesson. Instead, they are important details that affect our lives as we journey through the story, liberating Sicily, parachuting from planes over Normandy and doing our best to keep ourselves and buddies alive through the bitter cold and fighting in the Ardennes Forest during the Battle of the Bulge. We observe as women and African Americans finally gain the opportunity to prove their love for the country and value as people, while still having to fight against the prejudices that face them. There are romances and friendships throughout the story that remind us of a better time, a time of national unity, without being naive or overly simplistic. No matter what you enjoy in a story you will find it within the pages of this novel. Additionally, if you are a member of the military, a veteran, a fan of military or U.S. history, or know someone who needs to be reminded what our country once stood together for, then you need to read this book.
J.E. Barrett wrote this review Tuesday, February 12, 2013.