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Picks and Pans Review: Falling Through the Earth

updated 03/27/2006 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/27/2006 01:00AM

by Danielle Trussoni
REVIEWED BY JONATHAN DURBIN

MEMOIR

Raised by parents who eventually divorced in small-town Wisconsin, Trussoni recalls a childhood consumed by trying to understand her father, Dan, a Vietnam War veteran. She became his constant companion at his favorite bar, defended his indefensible actions to her mother and even, later in life, flew to Vietnam to try to comprehend how her father's tour of Southeast Asia had damaged him psychologically. (He had a severe case of posttraumatic stress disorder, which he never attempted to resolve.) This is a heartbreaking story of missed connections, made all the more painful by the author's refusal to indulge in self-pity. Quite the opposite, in fact: "Lying to my sister and brother and to myself, I created a Dad code. I told them Dad's annoyance meant he loved us more than words could express ... his coldness was a cover for intense feeling." In the end, this excellent memoir is much more than the sum of its parts. Free from melodrama, Trussoni's remembrance describes with painful acuity how war can come home in the most subtle ways.

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