Sunday, April 12, 2015

Full Measure

T. Jefferson Parker has been writing crime fiction for three decades now, and he has done it consistently well.  But, perhaps because his reputation as a crime writer is already as solid as it gets, he offers something very different to his fans this time around.  Full Measure is a character-driven literary novel that, according to fellow novelist Stephen Harrigan, sees Parker “playing in the same league as John Steinbeck.”  While that may be a little strong, do not make the mistake of underestimating this novel because it truly is a fine piece of writing.

When Marine Patrick Norris returns from Afghanistan, he believes that his fighting days are over.  Little does he suspect that he is coming home just in time to help defend his family in a very personal battle that seems almost certain to overwhelm them.  The California avocado farm the family has operated as long as Patrick can remember has been overrun by a fast-moving wildfire.  Now, only a few trees are standing – and no one knows how many of them are still alive.  And because the remaining trees may never produce avocados again, Norris Farms is unable to get the bank financing needed to carry it through the lean times just ahead.  If the family can hold on long enough to prove that most of the standing trees are still alive, the farm has a slim chance of surviving.  But hanging on will not be easy – and it cannot be done without Patrick’s help.

T. Jefferson Parker
Ted, Patrick’s older brother has long been the weakest link in the family chain, and now his mental instability and carelessness around the trees are as big a threat to the farm as the rogue storm that appears to be headed San Diego’s way.  Ted thinks little of himself, but he idolizes his younger brother and considers Patrick to be a true American hero, someone who has upheld the honor of his family and his country.  Patrick is everything that Ted wants to be but knows he never can be – and it shames him.

Ready or not, Patrick Norris is in the fight of his life now.  He wants to save his brother from himself, he will do whatever it takes to save the avocado farm, and his struggle with demons of his own is about to doom his relationship with the young woman he deeply loves. 

Full Measure is the story of a family pushed to the brink by Mother Nature.  It is about loyalty and duty to family, and the way that two very different brothers respond to the immense pressures of the situation.  It is about life in all its beauty and all its ugliness. 

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