Along the Watchtower: David Litwack
Insulating himself from the world and creating both a fantasy and semi-reality world for himself Freddie returns from war injured, psychologically damaged and fearful for his future. Lt. Freddie Williams will never forget the IED that took the lives of his men, created the nightmares that plague his dreams and sometimes waking hours as author David Litwick takes readers inside the mind of a soldier suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury, traumas both read and imagined and PTSD. Formerly a fanatic and quite adept at playing a computer game World of Warcraft, Freddie is not foreign to living in a fantasy world. Escaping reality in both in his dreams and present life, Freddie has to fight for survival in both.
Within the mind of Lt. Freddie Williams are many storms, fears, emotions and scars. Some scars can be seen caused by physical injuries others hidden within the recesses of his heart and mind. Freddie vacillates between two separate worlds. One filled with pain, the smell of burnt flesh, lost men, smoke and the sound of dogs barking and the other a world of fantasy where Dauphin/Freddie has to conquer demons, withstand four trials and work his way through the Watchtower avoiding those that want to harm him and finding those that want to help. A hospital bed that has become his crutch and a world filled with flowers, castles, gardens, A World Tree and a search for the White Rose, Embracing the Shadows and The New Pipe for Heroes as the author sends him back to the present where Becky his therapist tries to work her magic, present him with goals for success and hopefully break through his anger, frustration and fears so that he just might walk again. But, getting close to him is hard and the barriers are thick and each time progress is made another wall goes up. Trying to learn more about her Freddie encounters the same walls and barriers when asking about her life, her family and her wants. Secrets seem to surround and engulf them both, as Dauphin and Rebecca the gardener he meets in the other world seem to unleash their own.
Stormwind is one world, his memories of Iraq and the computer games he and his friends played to keep their minds off of the battle, the author brilliantly separates both worlds but there are many things that blend and connect. Military life as depicted in the old movies cannot compare to the graphic scenes, the emotional upheavals and the strife that is described through Freddie in this book. So many men and women come back from serving a tour in Iraq or Afghanistan different in many ways. Lost limbs, brain injuries, TBI, PTSD, witnesses the death of their fellow men/women firsthand, dealing with doctors and having to assimilate back into a world that was once theirs, Beyond the Watchtower embraces it all and much more.
As Dauphin enters the Watchtower and deals with demons, spirits and meets one special gardener named Rebecca, he too has to discern truths from lies, help from peril and hopefully save his world at the end. Enter the Watchtower, find the spirit’s wrench, locate the pipes and learn that the medallion is the key to the second trial. An archangel, pipes for heroes, painful memories that linger in the present come flooding in the other world while in the watchtower, awakening from the spell by the spinning wheel. Each time he escapes to another world and reminds readers of his guilt at focusing on WOW rather than the war, Freddie, as Dauphin has to understand the meaning of the White Rose before they can both move ahead.
“Suited to reverent occasions, the white rose is a fitting way to honor a friend or loved one in recognition of a new beginning or a farewell. Their pure color conveys respect, pays homage to new starts and expresses hope for the future. Historically, the white rose symbolized innocence and purity, which is how it became associated with weddings and bridal bouquets. Way back in 14th-century England the white rose was the heraldic sign of the Duke of York who faced off with the red-rose Lancaster family, giving the renowned War of Roses its name. Today, the white rose has retained its associations with both pure love and formal ceremony, making it a many-purposed recognition of unions and ceremonial occasions, such as anniversaries, christenings and graduations. http://www.proflowers.com/blog/history-and-meaning-of-white-roses Purity, innocence, unblemished: How can both Dauphin and Freddie hope for a future that will be unblemished, unmarked by guilt and understand the meaning of the Rose as Pure Love! Will Freddie find it in Becky and will Dauphin in Rebecca? Whose world will become his reality or will he be locked away in both?
Revealing the history behind his family, his father’s sudden death and his mother’s withdrawal from the world helps play a part in what Freddie is going through now as this too is locked in his mind and when his emotions spill out, the anger rears its head he hides behind his wounds and withdraws. A brother that took his own life and another that disappeared who did not understand the world, a fellow soldier who is Brain Damaged each one playing a part in his life both past and present.
After a while both worlds seem to blend into one as Freddie makes a decision that would change his relationship with Becky and Dauphin/Frederick enlists the help of Rebecca as the final two trials still await him. While the prince in the fantasy world fights demons, deals with spirits and hopes to save his world from doom and darkness, Frederick in the present needs to fight his own demons while searching for his lost brother and remembering the five men who were his friends who died in the war. As one young man realizes that two trials have been completed with one with his family and entering the Hall of Heroes two more still to come. First to find the missing boy as Freddie in the present searches for his own missing boy and an empty casket beyond his reach as the final two trials begin, Rebecca is at his side and what he finds in the coffin changes it all and what his decision is when the demon presents his ultimatum will surprise readers.
The author intertwines the romances between both Freddie and Becky and Fredrick and Rebecca within a highly charged emotional relationship. In the present Freddie pushes Becky aside, asks for a new therapist and has decided to move on by himself although she is always there with him. Going with her on a friendly date, seeing the carolers and the Christmas decorations brought back sad memories of his family, which he could not handle. Freddie seems to be following a downward path and must learn to solve his problems by facing them head on but will he?
Whose world is the true reality when Freddie is awake? Where will the final journey take them both? As one is still fighting two wars: one that he fought in Iraq and one that he is still fighting within himself. Before he can move ahead he has to rid himself of the guilt and visions of the past.
Take the final journey with Prince Freddie in the watchtower. Sit with him from sun to sundown. Listen to his thoughts, fight the demons with him and then face the present with our hero and decide whose reality is within this watchtower and whether the battles fought will finally reveal the hidden truth that lies within the casket in the Watchtower. What will Prince Frederick’s decision be? Will he give into the demon or will he find a better way? What happens after someone comes to see him in the present and gives him so hope that he thought was lost?
What happens when Freddie finally learns a hidden secret about Becky? What happens when he finally realizes that his life just might be beginning and his physical injuries are healing but will he let his mind do the same? Embrace the Shadows: Whose will remain and whose will be lifted? Will either Freddie find peace? What is the fate of the Prince and what is the final outcome for Freddie? Read Along the Watchtower and decide whose reality is real and which world Freddie winds up.
Characters that are strong, vividly depicted and action scenes in both realms graphically described and one man living in two worlds fight his demons, fears and deciding what is reality and what is just Along the Watchtower. The story has just begun where will the author take it next? So many men fight for our country and all too often they come back injured, damaged and unable to deal with the world. This book honors those men and women who have fought to keep America free and remind us of why our Veterans need to be remembered.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer