Timothy Hurley’s e-book, Johnny Don’t March, is a very moving and touching fictional story about Brooklyn native, Nelson O’Brien. Through the main character Hurley portrays a solder suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
At the start of the book, Nelson has deep emotion and physical scars from the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York. Among the dead was his cousin Sammy, a delivery man for the buildings. As each year passes, Nelson’s father pushes his son to seek revenge for not only his cousin’s demise but to rid the world of as many “brown people” as possible. (This is a term he uses negatively toward Afghani people as well as anyone who isn’t Oriental or White.)
At first Nelson has no want to seek revenge, but slowly over time he feels the urge to join the army and enlists. When he tells his girlfriend, Prue, she feels Nelson has broken the promise they made to each other to go to college, become teachers, get married and become parents.
As a result a fight erupts between them. Prue pushes Nelson hard to change his mind but he remains adamant about joining the army. Another person against Nelson’s enlistment is Sammy’s mother, who feels it is wrong for her nephew to enlist to enact the revenge his father has urged so strongly. But even with his aunt pressuring him too, it does not sway Nelson. Eventually Prue promises to stand by him until his enlistment ends and his relationship with his aunt for now remains frosty.
Fast forward and Nelson is doing his tour in Afghanistan where the internal wounds started from 9/11 grow deeper and deeper as his tour continues. The wounds erupt one day when Nelson’s fellow soldier Edgar, a close friend from Brooklyn, dies from an enemy sniper’s bullet before they can kill him. This deadly incident cements Nelson’s PTSD. The book continues with Nelson’s return to Brooklyn, his reunion with his family and Prue as well as the increasing impact of PTSD on him.
Not one to pass up, this book is a definite must-read. Yes, it packs an emotional wallop but it is well worth reading experiencing what happens to Nelson, his family, Prue, and others in the book.