Saturday, September 10, 2011

TSMSS - A Song That's Now a Book!

Letters from War

Mark Schultz
with Travis Thrasher
(Howard Books)
ISBN: 978-1439197318
September, 2011/288 pages/$19.99

Letters from War shows Beth Thompson’s struggle to keep her son alive. Each night, she writes a letter to her son. Just in case. It’s been two years since James went missing while saving the life of a fellow paratrooper in his division. Beth writes about her battles with faith, occasional clashes with her headstrong daughter, Emily, and all the people and events that remind her of James. While he's away, his young wife gives birth to his first son--and James doesn't even know his name. Though well-meaning friends encourage Beth to move on, she refuses to give up on her son. So for two long years, Beth prays, cuddles her grandson, and writes letters.

One day, just as Beth is leaving her house, she sees a car pull up onto their long driveway. She knows that the Army has come to officially tell her that her son is dead. Breaking down completely, she doesn’t realize that the man who is knocking at the door, who is now standing over her helping her up, the man who wears the insignia of a captain—is her son. In his hands are the letters she wrote to him. He recounts the words she told him before he went off to basic training—to stay safe and make it home.

With so many American soldiers overseas today, Letters from War is an emotional and relevant story that readers can relate to on several levels. The story grabs the reader from the very beginning as they connect with Beth throughout her ride of uncertainty.

Plus, kicking off on September 22, in Zanesville, Ohio, the “Letters From War” Tour, sponsored by Food For The Hungry, is hitting the road this fall with Mark Schultz, 33 Miles and special guest Finding Favour. Celebrating God & country in support of Mark Schultz’s novella by the same name, the “Letters From War” tour will inspire audiences with a variety of fan favorites from Mark Schultz and 33 Miles. Schultz will also play songs from his debut instrumental album Renaissance.

A current list of tour dates can be found at,, or

"The first time I heard Mark Schultz's song, 'Letters from War,' I was speechless. Now, seeing the heart of that message poured into a full-length novel, I'm not just speechless, but amazed at the sacrifice our men and women in uniform--and their families--so willingly make to protect our freedom. Thanks, Mark, for reminding us all of the cost of liberty."
-- Dave Ramsey, host of The Dave Ramsey Show, bestselling author of The Total Money Makeover

"The first time I met Mark Schultz I heard him sing in Estes Park. He closed out his set with 'Letters from War' accompanied by a very moving music video. I wept when I listened and watched the story unfold. What makes Mark special is that he is an advocate through song and story for the forgotten people of this world. He causes us to see our story in theirs, uniting through brokenness and hope. Letters from War is a must read."
-- Sandi Patty, Women of Faith speaker, most awarded female vocalist in Christian music history

"As Americans we understand and admire the courage and strength of our military, but now Mark Schultz has taken us into the hearts of these freedom fighters. We, as the reader, can almost feel the love, worry, and pain that they and their families experience during their service."
-- Lee Greenwood, multi-platinum-selling recording artist, Grammy Award winner, composer/singer of "God Bless the USA"

As a friend and a fan of Mark Schultz, I have always been amazed at his ability to tell a great story through his songs. With his new book, Letters from War, Mark shows that his storytelling extends far beyond his music. Once again, Mark tells a compelling story that is going to touch the hearts of those who read it."
-- Matthew West, Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter

Mark Schultz
Travis Thrasher is the author of twelve works of fiction including two novellas, The Promise Remains and The Watermark. He has been called “the Nicholas Sparks of Christian fiction” by Christian Retailing magazine. Travis’s drive and imagination have allowed him to see a variety of books published: from love stories (The Watermark; Three Roads Home) to suspense (Gun Lake; Admission; Blinded) to drama (The Second Thief; Sky Blue) to supernatural thrillers (Isolation; Ghostwriter). Travis lives with his wife and three-year-old daughter in a suburb of Chicago.

I really enjoy Mark Schulz's music and his unique "story songs" so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review this book based on his poignant song about a mother who refuses to accept that her missing soldier son will never come home again. Writing a book about a song that is already released is not without challenges, and while there was much to like about it, it was not quite what I expected or hoped it would be. Whenever I hear this song I have always pictured the setting as World War II - or at least a historical twentieth century war no later than Viet Nam. In an effort to make it current, the book is set in modern time, with the soldier serving in the Middle East. It was a bit of a stretch to imagine a 20-something-year-old soldier writing handwritten letters to his mom in this era of email and Skype. I thought it made the story a bit awkward. Several of Mark's songs have focused on the "Greatest Generation" (such as Walking Her Home) and I felt like this story naturally fit in that time period. The voice was also difficult to follow - I felt there was too much switching back and forth between present tense and past tense in the writing. Writing in present tense is difficult, and I think it would have been easier for the entire book to be written in past tense, utilizing a different method to distinguish between current day and previous events/memories. I really wanted to love the book and I finished it feeling a bit let down that it didn't quite measure up to the song. Hopefully, some of the issues have been removed from the final copy; I read an advance reader copy which had not gone through final edits. I don't want my thoughts to detract from the wonderful concept that we need songs and books like this that pay tribute to the incredible sacrifices made by the men and women in our military. . .and the families at home who love them and wait for them. It did indeed paint a picture of how very difficult the uncertainty is for those at home and how important it is to support them.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Howard Books as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


View blog reactions


Michelle said...

Thank you for your review, it is very helpful.

Sandy@Jesus and Dark Choc said...

Ha I so agree with you Linda about the song taking place at least in WW 1 or 2 or even a civil war era. I don't like the modern twist either. I picture a mom coming out in her apron (since none of us where those around any more LO!) and greeting her boy with the actual letters. Good take on it all. Love the song, but I get what you are saying about the book!