Once in a Blue Year, Michael D. Durkota

Once in a Blue Year begins during the first days of the Gulf War, with two navy barracks roommates remaining onshore as their submarine leaves without them. Unraveling through different points of view in both present action and flashbacks, the story follows Dan, who is conflicted about receiving a medical discharge, and Trevor, who is seething with anger over the incident that forced him to miss his deployment.

With nowhere else to go, Dan moves into the home of his friends Nathan and Heather and their young son, James. Meanwhile, Trevor is furious with Nathan, who has managed to volunteer to go to battle in Trevor’s place. But Trevor’s hotheaded temperament has finally caught up to him, and regardless of his skill as a true naval warrior, he’s suddenly been ordered to “stay in.”

In Nathan’s absence, Dan is charged with looking after Heather and James as he rebuilds his life, while Trevor struggles with his anger and intimacy issues in his relationship with girlfriend Tara. But before they can move forward, they must both come to terms with the fateful event at sea that changed their lives forever.

Once in a Blue Year is a beautiful, poignant story that has captured my heart. As a Marine wife this novel was incredibly important for me to read and experience, this novel may be centred around the Gulf War but it speaks for all wars and most importantly it speaks about the effect war has on the people it touches; It is a poetically beautiful piece of literature which is entertaining as well as being incredibly poignant and already in my review I implore all of you lovely readers to read it. Here is a little bit more about this wonderful novel.

Our novel is centred around four ‘friends’ as we follow them on their journey against the backdrop of the terrible war that was the Gulf War. We are introduced to all of our four main characters perfectly and all of them are lovable in their own way. Usually I would not talk about the novels characters until later on in my review but this novel is a character study and the whole book focuses on these four characters and their twisty turny life’s so here is a little bit more about them!

One of our main characters is Dan. Dan is dissatisfied with his life in the Navy. Dan lives aboard a submarine which carries nuclear weapons and this is unsettling to him, his life abroad the submarine too is even more unsettling because he is constantly taunted by his ‘friend’ Trevor who is a bully who thrives on taunting him day in and day out. However a freak accident soon releases him from his duty as a Navy officer and so you would think that finally he would have respite from his emotions but this is not the case for poor Dan and he soon becomes trapped in an emotional downward spiral.

Trevor is a man with issues and he often flies into rages that have disastrous consequences. He, unlike Dan, wants to stay abroad the submarine during the Gulf War but this is not so much about his sense of duty but rather the fact that he wants to avoid his woman named Tara who loves him unconditionally. Already you can see that we have two very different characters and that is one of the wonderful things about this novel; its diverse cast of characters.

This is where the plot of the novel thickens and where we are introduced to our other main character Nathan. All Trevor wants is to stay abroad the submarine however Nathan decides to throw him out of the crew which is heading towards the Persian Gulf. Nathan is married to Heather, they are re-building their relationship as Nathan missed the birth of his first child and that created a lot of issues for them.

We are then introduced to our fourth main character, Jags who could be described as ‘the class clown’ but he is also a deep thinker and is very philosophical. However, Jags ‘accidentally’ shoots himself in the foot so he luckily got to avoid the harshness of the Gulf… silly Jags.

Now you are caught up with the characters of this wonderful book I can begin to tell you a little bit about the story. Nathan is abroad the submarine so this means that his wife Heather has now decided to live with Dan and she welcomes him with open arms. Dan becomes a baby-sitter almost and he feels pretty awkward about this because his friend essentially abandoned her. Trevor is soon reunited with Tara but it is not going swimmingly and soon his childhood demons become inescapable whereas the hilarious Jags has decided to marry a stripper. Again, we have a real mix of characters here. Our novel soon takes off fully when they are all back on land together and this is where our novel begins.

Once in a Blue Year is a novel with many themes and many different plot avenues. It is a compelling story full of drama and intrigue full of a host of complex characters. It’s story is simply fascinating and beyond gripping, I could not put it down and this is thanks to our incredible author Durkota.

Durkota is a former submariner so this makes this novel even more real as Durkota has had some of the experiences the men have had in this novel. I adored how he created such vivid descriptions of the submarine and all that goes on in it. For example he talks through his characters about how carrying dangerous weapons under the sea makes you feel and how bad the bland meals are awful but how great the coffee is! I also loved how he wrote about the claustrophobia some navy service men feel but how some find the routine comforting. Our author has explored all avenues and that is perfect to me.

To conclude my thoughts on Once in a Blue Year I would say if you adore character driven stories which is full of drama, action, and important moments then you will adore this! Especially if you yourself love military novels… I know I do! This enchanting novel gets Five Stars from me! Yes Five! It was that good. Thank you for reading!

Goodbye for now book lovers,

P.S. Here is a preview of the book for all of you lovely readers to enjoy! If you have loved what you have read and want to buy the wonderful novel then you can click the buy on amazon button and it will take you straight to Amazon U.K.! If you are international then click the Amazon USA link underneath it! Thank you so much again for reading!

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