Devastation Road

Written by Jason Hewitt
Review by Jeanne Greene

As the title suggests, Devastation Road is an intense, often surreal account of a man’s wartime journey and its aftereffects. Owen is likely English and may be a RAF pilot but, when his plane is downed in 1945, he doesn’t remember any of this. He stumbles past wartime detritus, recognizing nothing but a jacket that could be his, to a road traveled by marauding soldiers. To provide some protection, Owen joins up with a teenage boy and a young woman with a baby whose presence triggers memories of before. Vague recollections and confusing emotions follow Owen—but the war is over now. Owen heads to Allied-occupied Leipzig, so the British can tell him who he is, but by the time he finds someone to listen, Owen can explain himself well enough to convince an American to get him back home.

Devastation Road starts out slowly, but the pace increases as Owen’s memory slowly returns, revealing his personality, his integrity, and his capacity for love, as well as his regrets. The author’s anti-war message is clearest at the end of Owen’s journey, when he realizes how much his future has changed. Although he is unprepared for the startling revelations when he arrives, he has only to close his eyes to remember everything. Highly recommended for all readers.