"VANILLA GRASS, a heartwarming tale of redemption."
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Every once in awhile, a book comes along that causes you not just to read it, but sit in silence afterwards thinking about what you have been reading. Vanilla Grass is such a book. Once I started, I couldn't put it down. Everyone thinks they know what veterans face when they have PTSD, and you tend to brush aside "at risk teens" with perhaps an unsympathetic view, and oh yes, of course we've all heard about how meaningful a dog can be to a handicapped individual or even one with PTSD, but when you put all three elements into a single story, blend their interactions, speak in their language, and realize how initially, all three were misfits in a throw-away society that really wants to move on and not ask "why," you have a powerful book. In Vanilla Grass you have a powerful document that forces you to mentally address each element. This book was carefully researched by the author giving it, although a novel, a book based in fact. I highly recommend it - especially to Golden Retriever lovers!
This book kept me going from page one to the end. The author has developed the characters so deeply that I felt I knew each one. It taught me about many important aspects of life that I had not given much thought: the horrific physical and mental burdens returning soldiers suffer, the healing power of dogs trained to give solace; the redemption of wayward teens when someone cares enough to teach them their worth, and the importance of speaking up when peers attempt to lead you in a dangerous direction. Congratulations to Bratspis for this thought-provoking book with a plot I could not only immerse myself into, but I could even smell it.
I was slightly worried about the 'novel of redemption' tag and wondered if I was letting myself in for a dull book on how to find redemption. But there is nothing dull about Vanilla Grass. It is a beautifully written, great story of human nature and all its flaws, the far-reaching consequences of war, the aimlessness of youth and the power of love. I really didn't want this story to end. Had I been able to give 6 stars, I would. I'm settling for 5. I see Leslie Bratspis has written an earlier novel, Good Fortune. I'll be buying it.
A sweet story that ties together coming of age, redemption of a PTSD war veteran, facing fears and challenges, and choosing your path. The story's central protagonist, a recluse from the psychological effects of fighting in the Vietnam war, slowly is drawn into society 30+ years later. Through contacts, new relationships and setting an example, he becomes an inspiration to others, showing how one can contribute to their community, no matter their past nor age. You find yourself rooting for some characters, hoping that others find themselves, and therefore opening the reader's eyes to their own possibilities. An easy read, well worth your time.
I took Vanilla Grass on a recent trip and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The references to Pet Partners were all accurate and I found myself really pulling for the kids to turn their lives around AND for John and Colleen’s relationship! Anyone who loves animals, wants to learn about therapy animals or is looking for a positive message will enjoy this book. Teen readers will especially find the journey of their peers to be compelling.
Dog lovers, teens, parents, and veterans will want to read this inspirational book.
322 pages, 6"x 9"
Vanilla Grass A Novel of Redemption Author Leslie Bratspis
Author: Leslie Bratspis
“Vanilla Grass is a thoughtful satisfying read, rich in information about the plight of PTSD soldiers, at risk youth, and the options available for their recovery along with valuable insight on the role of companion dogs.”
“This gifted writer researched her subject and got the feeling right for someone returning from the Nam and suffering from PTSD. It’s almost as if the author had been there herself. Three cheers for this one!”