Book Review: The Wind is Not a River by Brian Payton

the wind is not a riverPublication date: January 7th, 2014

Disclaimer: All opinions are honest and my own, to know how I rate my books please go here. There will NOT be any MAJOR spoilers for this book review. Some scenes I mentioned in the review are not major. This book does contain profanity, the essence of war, and mention about non-graphic sexual reference. This book is not advised for ages 16 and younger. 


A gripping tale of survival and an epic love story in which a husband and wife–separated by the only battle of World War II to take place on American soil–fight to reunite in Alaska’s starkly beautiful Aleutian Islands

Following the death of his younger brother in Europe, journalist John Easley is determined to find meaning in his loss, to document some part of the growing war that claimed his own flesh and blood. Leaving behind his beloved wife, Helen, after an argument they both regret, he heads north from Seattle to investigate the Japanese invasion of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, a story censored by the U.S. government.

While John is accompanying a crew on a bombing run, his plane is shot down over the island of Attu. He survives only to find himself exposed to a harsh and unforgiving wilderness, known as “the Birthplace of Winds.” There, John must battle the elements, starvation, and his own remorse while evading discovery by the Japanese.

Alone in their home three thousand miles to the south, Helen struggles with the burden of her husband’s disappearance. Caught in extraordinary circumstances, in this new world of the missing, she is forced to reimagine who she is–and what she is capable of doing. Somehow, she must find John and bring him home, a quest that takes her into the farthest reaches of the war, beyond the safety of everything she knows.

A powerful, richly atmospheric story of life and death, commitment and sacrifice, The Wind Is Not a River illuminates the fragility of life and the fierce power of love.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

My Review: 

“A gripping tale of survival and an epic love story in which a husband and wife–separated by the only battle of World War II to take place on American soil–fight to reunite in Alaska’s starkly beautiful Aleutian Islands.”

For the most part, I do agree that this a great love story about a husband and wife who’s lives have been separated by World War II. However, it is not as epic as it seems. John Easley is a reporter that risks his life (trained and unarmed) to go back into the Aleutian Islands to unravel the secrets that the government has been hiding. While he was there, he kept thinking about life back home and how he misses his wife.

While his wife, Helen, deals with issues back home. With her father ill, she had to move back in with him since she is supposedly “single” ever since her husband has left her for the battle field. For the most part, I do enjoy Helen’s character. However, since this is taken place during World War II where women have always been dependent on their men until the war has separated them, the men in Helen’s life has always shielded her from the world. Helen is only starting to figure out how to fend on her own. There are some scenes that delves into this that I did not really enjoy reading.

It seems as if the author’s philosophical values are seeping into the page because I find myself disagreeing to several things that Brian Payton has mentioned. As an author, you are not trying to force your values onto readers. You try to address or offer life’s most valuable lessons that readers are supposed to reminisce on. And, I just had this internal war surging in my head between the author and I as if he was really there.

As a war story, I did anticipate a lot from this novel. However, I found it lacking for most of the story. When John landed onto the Aleutian Islands, there was a soldier, that we later know him as Karl Bitburg, that landed a few feet away. The 2 men scouted the islands for the rest of Karl’s men, however, they were unsuccessful in finding them. As weeks pass by, John and Karl knew that no one was going to rescue them so they had to find a shelter. As exciting as this seems, John and Karl somehow surpasses the detection of the Japanese (which we later found out that they were inhabiting the island) for several weeks. And to no one’s surprise, they ended up surviving.

Is this a true war story like The Things They Carried by Tim O’ Brien? No. Is it a great love story? Yes. Would I recommend this to everyone? I would recommend this to people who enjoy reading a sweet love story about a husband and a woman who’s lives have been separated by a war. I think this novel is aimed for people who are married and who have experienced that same separation. Since I am neither in a relationship (sadness) nor married, I couldn’t really feel what John and Helen felt. Maybe Helen because I do have a sister that lives on the other side of the country, so I do know what that separation feels like. But for the most part, I could not relate to the characters.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. gabimoh says:

    Hey I’m Gabi, I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. Info on this page I really hope you see it as not only a nomination but for a way for us book bloggers to become blogger friends. 🙂

  2. Hi Gabi! Thank you for nominating us! And we would really love to meet new blogger friends! It’ll be a great way for us to just share our thoughts about reading and other things we might love in common! 🙂

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