The War Legacy Story Review

Disclosure: I got a free eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

February 24 will mark one year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Because of that, war has been on my mind, specifically how it can affect soldiers’ families. I recently read the short story The War Legacy by Nandita Pant Joshi, which is part of the anthology Children of War: an anthology to support the children of Ukraine edited by Astrid V.J.. This tale effectively explores how war affects the widow of a soldier and her family and how she receives the strength to carry on.

Normally, I like to summarize the plot, but the author was kind enough to provide a blurb, so I’ll use that instead.

The only thing Sarah wants is to be free of her former husband’s war legacy. But will her painful past allow for a tranquil future? Partially set in the war-torn fictitious county of Minsrin, this story is for everyone left behind due to a war.

The story itself is very poignant. It deals with Sarah – a wife with a 7-year-old son – who finds out that her husband Shaun had been killed while fighting terrorists. She faints and later discovers that she’s pregnant with her second child. It’s deeply traumatic for her since she has to figure out if she wants to be a wife or a widow first. It also gives some inklings that her son Henry feels the pain, thus giving some commentary on generational trauma. Luckily, her friend from childhood Elliot is there to help her out with physical and emotional support as well as to remember the good times with Shaun. This proves that Shaun’s life wasn’t defined by war even if that was heavily involved. Elliot even offers to marry Sarah to further that support. 

Sarah is conflicted, and the story is understanding about it. It doesn’t judge her for emotions nor for marrying Elliot two months after Shaun’s death. It sees that this is what Sarah had to do in order to move on with her life while maintaining Shaun’s legacy.

In addition, the tale dives into Shaun’s story as he told it to Sarah. He came from a war-torn country, and he recounted how his family was killed in various ways. I won’t describe how they died, but I will say that the author as well as the anthology have provided several trigger warnings. Shaun experiences survivor’s guilt in a very realistic way, especially when coming to terms of his sister’s and mother’s deaths. This is only a part of what Sarah carries with her.

If I had to nitpick, I thought Elliot was a little too pushy with Sarah to move on. At the same time, I understand his intentions. He didn’t want to see Sarah sink down into a deep hole after discovering that Shaun had died. Also, a support system sometimes needs to nudge a person in the right direction even if it feels wrong at the moment. Moreover, when they’re married, he’s respectful of her intimacy boundaries.

Furthermore, I thought it was intriguing detail with Elliot writing a book about Shaun and receiving an award for it years later. I would’ve liked Sarah to have penned it, but it shows that one doesn’t have to shoulder the burden of carrying another’s legacy. It’s a group effort.

To summarize, The War Legacy by Nandita Pant Joshi paints a realistic picture of how one soldier’s family deals with loss due to war. The feelings are complicated, and the story is emphatic to that. I would recommend it to readers who enjoy war stories about the fighters’ families. I’d also encourage them to read the anthology Children of War: an anthology to support the children of Ukraine edited by Astrid V.J. I’m going to read it myself in the future. All proceeds from the book will be donated in perpetuity to Voices of Children Foundation in Ukraine or another similar charity.

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Published by emilymalek

I work at a public library southeast Michigan, and I facilitate two book clubs there. I also hold a Bachelor's degree in History and Theatre from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI; a Master's degree in Library and Information Science from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI; and a Graduate Certificate in Archival Administration also from Wayne. In my downtime, I love hanging out with friends, play trivia and crossword puzzles, listening to music (like classic rock and K-pop), and watching shows like "Monty Python's Flying Circus"!

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