Tom Maremaa,
Metal Heads
(Kunati, 2009)

I first became acquainted with Jeremy Witherspoon, a.k.a. "Spoon," in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards contest of 2008. The excerpt I read was one of the most haunting of that contest, and I hoped some smart publisher would choose Tom Maremaa's work for publication. Thanks to Kunati Press, I got to read the rest of the story.

Spoon's a metal head or, in this parlance, a brain-injured U.S. soldier returning from Iraq. He's confined to a veteran's care hospital in California with a crew of other similarly injured men and women. Unlike the traditional term, Spoon can't handle any loud noises, including music. Worse, he's lost an eye and a hand in service to his country.

Spoon's dealing with his injuries with drug-infused equanimity. What haunts him is not telling what Skank, a private contractor, did in a village in Iraq. Matters go from bad to worse when Skank arrives and Spoon realizes what is being done to his fellow soldiers.

While this story is fiction, Maremaa had extensive interaction with real "metal heads" before he writing this novel. Spoon is rendered with a depth, heart and compassion that speaks of the author's concern for these valiant survivors. I read a good part of Metal Heads with my eyes blurring from tears. This is an exceptional and powerful story, and it is well worth your time.

review by
Becky Kyle

13 February 2010

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