This great first novel is a profound statement about the humanity within the
modern soldier, friendships, and the many strange detours life holds in
store for a young man without a plan. It is the story of 23-year old
Benjamin Jones, a soldier finishing up a harrowing tour of duty during the
1993 war in Somalia in one of the few remaining U.S. Army gunboat units.
Bauman tells his story through often nonsequential passages that delve deep
into the mind of Jones, further building on the psyche of the character.
This is a soldier's story, but is often more about life than soldiering.
Early in the story, we find Jones shortly after his discharge, on a
cross-country journey aboard a Greyhound bus. Often, through a hazy stream
of consciousness we meet the many characters accompanying him on his bus
journey as Jones lapses between exhaustion, half-sleep and deep thought.
Jones pensive friendship with fellow soldier and best friend Trevor (who
decides to reenlist), and constant thoughts of Liz, his female obession
provide a current that brings the reader in and out of the bus journey much
as it does Jones as he ponders his life in between stops. Incredibly
candid, and never boring, Bauman's story puts his character into many
unexpected places, yet remains incredibly true to the experience of so many
young men searching to find their way. To the reader who believes they know
what sort of man joins the military and endures violent conflict will be
pleasantly surprised, and cast aside all stereotypes.
The Ice Beneath You is an incredibly well-written, wonderfully layered
story, while remaining simple and avoiding the cliches expected from
fiction when war and men are featured alongside one another.
This report prepared by Jonathan Colcord