The Girl in the Photo by Gaspar Gonzales is a 42 page Kindle Single available through Kindle Unlimited (KU). Published in January 2015 by Amazon Digital LLC, the story is about one person’s attempt to come to terms with the loss of a loved one in Vietnam. Couldn’t it also be about coming to terms with the loss of a loved one in any war? The reader can decide.
Nelson Ramirez was the older brother of the author but Gaspar never met Nelson, Gaspar was born seven weeks after Nelson’s death. Due to strong family ties that included a knowledge of family heritage and history, Nelson was always a part of Gaspar’s life although he had never been in it. A large part of this story is spent on description of family backgrounds; the grandparents, the financial ups and downs, and the marital ups and downs. For almost all his life Gaspar carried a picture of Nelson. In the picture was a girl Nelson had taken to the prom. Gaspar wondered about her but didn’t take any positive action that would lead to identification. It was only in 2010 and a chance discovery on the internet that prompted Gaspar to find out more about the events surrounding his brother’s loss.
The story then turns to a history of what Gaspar did to find out more information about his brother and also about the girl in the picture. There were internet searches, searches of high school yearbooks, and phone interviews with former military colleagues. There is no surprise ending. There is a happy ending. Foe a reader interested in this type of story, look for the reason Gaspar decided late in his life to track down this information. The motive is important and I consider its revelation a spoiler so will not discuss it here.
This might be of interest to some who served in Vietnam. I did and am proud to have done so. I can understand the questioning of purpose by those who did not attend but I have little patience with those who write off the entire effort as a waste. Therefore, I did not find this account interesting. War does not happen without deaths and the death of loved ones is hard to take. Personal grieving is natural; the lack of it would surprise me. I survived Vietnam, my children did not have to go to war and my grandson survived Iraq. Which brings me back to the point I made at the beginning of this review, coming to terms with the loss of any loved one in war is tough.