“John Wilkes Booth is dead,” I announced.
Silence in the car from our 15-year-old daughter. She gave me that look that said, “Are you messing with me?” Suddenly a hint of recognition, “Oh, your book. Does this have to do with your book?”
“Yes, John Wilkes Booth is dead in my book, as well as in real life! I’ve been holding my breath.”
Manhunt by James L. Swanson IS a page-turner and a thriller proving that when a deft writer takes on a chapter in history, researches the subject, the characters, the mood of the nation, the region and scenes where the events took place and then guides his reader through this window into the past so adeptly, we can step into his time machine with him and not only understand, but thirst for more.
Now that I had Madeleine’s attention (the 15-year-old) we had a good laugh and talked about the realizations I had come to after reading the book and how I had forgotten the true circumstances of Booth’s run from Union forces and his ultimate discovery. Through my enthusiasm for the topic, her inquiries increased and our morning drive flew by.
Books have always been a connecting influence in our family. That’s bound to happen when the DNA on both sides of the family have readers, writers and editors, but mostly it’s the stories we share – oral or written – that bind us together as family and give our own family a shared history and shared passion for story-telling. I’m so glad that we have that “thing.” For some families it’s music or math, for others politics or practical jokes, still others can talk sports or the outdoors, while others focus on religion or medicine, or maybe it’s hunting or gardening – You get the picture. Sadly, some families don’t have that “thing.” That thread that can be picked up each time members re-unite. They can only talk about the weather or the Kardashians. And I’m glad our touchstone encompasses of stories and books because they are a source of comfort, of meditation, of escape, of learning, and of laughter. AND favorite books and stories can be passed through the generations for their very own time travel machine.