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Like an AWOL soldier, or other fugitive from responsibility, the story of Finding Wendy Cook walks the fine line between devotion and disloyalty. Paul Bellerive’s latest novel on the American community addresses how the regular and imperfect lives of most people are affected by the larger social and political ambitions shaping their time. Subjectively, the author appeals to our collective need to sufficiently adhere to institutional and cultural principles while simultaneously sympathizing with those who become troubled or hurt, and fail to live up to society’s strenuous demands.

In Finding Wendy Cook, Bellerive completes a trilogy of related themes presented in recognition of the shortcomings of social philosophies and the externally staged structures meant to support them, especially when unendurable commitment is demanded. At times, he warns the reader, life is not perfect for the many reduced to nonentities of the system.

The author narrates from the viewpoint of Wendy Cook, the lonely wife of a soldier declared missing in action at the conclusion of the Vietnam War. After seven years of holding out hope and despite the urgings of those closest to her to accept her loss and move on, Wendy remains stubbornly committed to learning the whole truth of her husband’s long absence.

A sentimental and credible character, a soldier who served with him in Vietnam, enters the story with news of Wendy’s husband seen alive. Encouragement restored, clutching this hopeful evidence, she plans a dangerous journey to find her lost and abandoned husband, dead or alive. Compelled by love and loyalty to strengthen fidelity and ever-lasting attachment to her husband, Wendy struggles to carry the heavy load of marital morality while weighing the risks needed to arrive at a conclusive ending.

In this and his other great works, Mr. Bellerive successfully tunes his characters’ emotional dispositions to match their tragic realities. Perhaps he has written from his own trying experiences as a veteran of Vietnam’s war torn past. The details are undoubtedly real, and not construed from fanciful imagination alone, for Bellerive captures the familiar imagery of places, people, and the breadth of their motives, as if he had marched through Wendy’s definitive search himself.