Raeford’s MVP (CreateSpace, 452 pp., 16.95, paper; $3.99, Kindle) is the third Vietnam War-themed novel by Rick DeStefanis, who served with the 82nd Airborne Division from 1970-72. We reviewed the previous books—Melody Hill and The Gomorrah Principle on these pages.
This book focuses on Billy Coker, who is 19 years old and erving in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam during the war. He left behind the love of his life, the chubby Bonnie Jo Parker, in Raeford, Mississippi. Bonnie happens to have an amazing voice and a pretty face, the way many big girls in small American towns do. She gives him a good luck piece to wear. Spoiler alert: It does the trick.
When Billy arrives back home, he struggles with psychological problems and with connecting with his old friends. Some of his best friends make an effort to help him, a very good thing.
But the war becomes Billy’s life and he has a terrible problem shaking it off. The fog of battle gets a mention. So does John Wayne. And Puff the Magic Dragon. Agent Orange is not ignored.
Billy finds a honkytonk that has an “old Son House tune on the jukebox.” I would love to find that place. I’ve never encountered Son House on a jukebox. Wilson Pickett sings “Land of a 1000 Dances,” and Jane Fonda gets kicked around years before she takes her trip to North Vietnam.
DeStefanis has written an honorable book that will hold most readers’ attention.
The author’s website is rickdestefanis.com