Review: The Replacement Son, W.S. Culpepper

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book on Netgalley from the publisher in return for an honest review*
The Replacement Son W.S. Culpepper cover
Harry McChesney is seven when he first learns of Buddy, his only brother who’d died young and left his family in misery. After a fitful start on his own life, Harry decides that the only way to get things right for himself and his family is to become The Replacement Son.
Harry struggles to define himself, rescue his family from the emotional aftermath of his brother’s death, and undertake a lifetime of labors as the next head of the McChesney clan. Along his journey, Harry gets help from a trusted family servant, a powerful talisman, and a bizarre set of twins. The brothers’ shared legacy seems only threatening and harmful. In the chaos of war Harry discovers a shocking secret that might offer a resolution and release for both brothers. But their conflict doesn’t end there, and Harry faces failure and defeat much later in life—trapped in the floods of Hurricane Katrina—when time is running out on everything.

W. S. Culpepper is a retired physician living in Austin, TX with his wife and daughter. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, he lived and worked in New Orleans, LA, the exotic, dysfunctional, much-battered, but beloved city where he was born and raised.
Dr. Culpepper has written poetry since his undergraduate years at the University of Virginia where he was an Echols Scholar in English literature. After practicing and teaching pediatric cardiology for over twenty-five years, he decided to focus on his writing.

I am not sure what pulled me to read this book. Usually there is something like a cover or a really gripping synopsis /title or the buzz surrounding a book that makes you look out for it. I experienced the cover for this book as very blue, the synopsis sounded interesting enough but not in a way that I needed to get the book immediately and as it still had to be released the buzz was not the cause either. Still I felt a need to read this book and I am so glad I did it and now I am going to make an attempt to explain though I am going to say beforehand it was a feeling why I picked up the book and it was a lot feeling why I liked the book.
Harry the main character is born a few years after the dead of his older brother. He gets the signals early on that something is wrong but they take a long time to explain to him what that vibe means. The confusion this all gives is so clear in the story it frustrated me and I felt like jumping in the book and telling him more and answering his questions. After a short introduction about the early life and Harry being confronted with the story of Buddy we jump a few years to New Orleans while Katrina is coming closer. While being trapped in his house he starts to have flashbacks to his youth and what he all did to become the replacement son in the hope that his mother would stop grieving. Both stories are strong and well developed and I did not experience the feeling I can often have with flashbacks that I prefer the one over the other. There where only three things that really disturbed me in the reading process. One is the chapter of Bertha, I found it hard to read and to follow. Second is the group of pilots that are introduced with both real name and call name only ones and after they are used mixed but I was not always sure which one was which. Third I did no really like the few "magical" situations in the book but they can easily be ignored.
It was easy to connect with Harry in both periods and hope that everything turns out alright. Despite the often hard situations in the story I did not experience the book as a difficult read. The positive attitude Harry has towards most situations in his life make them accessible and it made the dark period he had a lot darker. After reading I tried to write why I liked this book so much and if I have to name something I think it is the hope that pours out of the pages.

The Replacement Son
Author: W. S. Culpepper
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
Pages: 418
Format: eGalley
Two Harbors Press: various formats
The Replacement Son

4 star review
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04 June, 2013 delete

I wanted to request this, but ended up taking The Book of Secrets!