May 24, 2015

Welsh Weekend: Someone Else's Conflict by Alison Layland

The boy looks up and sees the foreigner's rifle aimed at him. Why is this man here? This is not his conflict, it is not the boy's... it is hell.
Jay has been home for a long time, but the ghosts of Yugoslavia are still with him as he busks his way round the country.
Marilyn is fresh out of a controlling relationship and desperate to reassert her independence. The last thing she needs is to fall for an itinerant storyteller who has a strange relationship with the truth. And then the police call on her.
When the past catches up with the present and stories become reality, Jay and Marilyn must decide who to believe and who to betray.

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Jay is leading a nomadic life. He owns a house, but he isn't staying there. He's trying to come to terms with his past, but it keeps haunting him. He's fought in Yugoslavia, for friends. Something traumatic happened and Jay has never been able to get over it. Jay has his flute and he tells stories to make money. When he meets Marilyn he offers to help her with her house after a terrible storm. Even though she doesn't need to she offers him the guest room and some food and clean clothes. A friendship between them instantly blossoms and also the feeling that they want more, but Marilyn has been badly hurt in her previous relationship and Jay isn't a very reliable person. Is this relationship doomed from the start?

Jay's past becomes his present again. There's a boy he wants to help, Vinko. Vinko doesn't have an official identity and Jay wants to help him change it. He's had a tough life and Jay wants to make sure he's taken care of. Unfortunately there's someone who wants to use Vinko to get a large sum of money. The question is if Jay can really help him or not. And will helping Vinko mean that he has to betray Marilyn?

Jay is traumatized because of something that has happened in the Yugoslavian war. War is terrible and there are always many victims. In this war friends and neighbors were suddenly fighting each other and that had a lot of dramatic consequences. Jay was there to help his friends, but the war made him lose so much, even his own identity. I felt really bad for him, because he's such a good guy.

Things are threatening to escalate and as a reader you know something is going to happen. This constant tension combined with the unusual relationship between Marilyn and Jay make Someone Else's Conflict a gripping read. The story is unusual and really good and I liked it a lot. Money plays an important role in this book, I was curious to see where the chase would end and if Vinko and Jay were going to be all right. 

Jay has a lot of love and kindness to give and that is another important aspect of this book. Marilyn is just as kind. She and Jay are two broken people and they're good together, I loved their connection. There are several clear decision points in this novel which are making the story really strong. The war in the past, the consequences of what happened that are dominating the present and the hope for the future are intertwined in a fantastic way. I loved this book and am glad I had the chance to read it.

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