More than thirty years have passed since the close of the Civil War, yet its ghosts and wounds still haunt Abel Truman. He has spent those years on the Pacific coast of Washington, a remote corner of a world that stripped him of his wife and child and led him through a war that saw the death of all his friends and left him permanently crippled. His shack, made from flotsam found on the beach, and his beloved dog are his only sanctuary from his memories.
Abel had been a Confederate soldier, though he fought for no particular cause. He was a lucky soldier, never wounded until the fighting in the Wilderness of Spotsylvania. There he was shot in the arm and saved from certain death by the succor given by a runaway slave. But Abel is sick. He’s been sick since the war, but it has become unbearable. He takes what few things he needs from his shack and he and his dog head down the beach. This is to be his last journey, and along the way he meets others who are just as lost, others who are even more broken. He soon learns that he has one last purpose to serve and maybe one last chance at redemption.
Wilderness takes us through some of the worst fighting of the war and some of the worst of what man can be. We meet compelling characters along the way, each one broken or lost in his or her own way, each one making their way through their own wilderness.
This is Weller’s debut novel, and it is written in a compelling literary style. The story and characters will stick with me for some time to come, and I look forward to following his career.