“In the aftermath, we are because they were.” – RJ Heller

One Helluva Life’ is a searing and inspiring autobiographical account of Roger Blake, a US Navy Veteran commissioned as a Naval Flight Officer in 1964. In this candid memoir, he narrates his experiences working as Radar Intercept Officer onboard fighter/bombers for the Navy during the Vietnam War and the various life battles he fought after landing back on home soil. This autobiography captures a Navy Veteran’s life-long struggle with PTSD and also the positive outcomes he realized by dabbling in various creative pursuits. These pursuits ultimately became the panacea to overcome his mental trauma and see life in a new light.

Roger Blake’s autobiography is a well compiled book highlighting the important and noteworthy events from the man’s life. Coming at over just 300+ pages, it also hits the right length in terms of a biographical narrative that never feels inadequate or like it’s too long drawn out. As with any autobiography, its voice is limited by a particular character of the author’s life that he wants to share with the world. Even so, the sincerity behind the intention and the dialogue are unflappable. You really get to sense an ordinary man dealing with raw emotions at the best and worst times of his life. This autobiography includes Roger’s original artworks and photographs, which showcase his creative musings and offers a glimpse into his artistic spirit.

The memoir mainly focuses on the adult life of Roger Blake and his entire childhood is condensed to a few passages and lines thereafter. But even without it being explicitly stated, you can feel the ramifications of his childhood experiences, influencing the actions and decisions taken by the man later in his life. His life and career flying in fighter and bomber planes for the Navy is well documented and his detailed descriptions will take the reader inside the cockpit of these planes. The civilian life of an individual after a stint in the armed forces is something that has been much written and documented about. And it’s uncanny how Roger Blake’s struggles as a civilian resonates so much with the stories we hear about our veterans. It makes you wonder if we love and respect our soldiers only at the time of war and conveniently overlook them in times of peace.

There are many events and passages that will stay with you long after you’re done with the book. Roger’s brief adventure trip in locating his father, the war stories from Vietnam, the Melissa phase of his life, talking about his children and his decision to finally let down his guard and seek professional help for his emotional trauma   are some of the highlights from this memoir.

Roger Blake’s writing has a personal touch to it and should easily connect with readers. The narrative checkmarks various themes like humor, romance & sensuality, inspirational, emotion rich, and action filled; all in all a standard fare that you would expect from any traditional action-thriller fiction book. Except the fact that this isn’t fiction and all these events took place in an individual’s life should leave you with something to think about.

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