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The Fourteenth of September: A Novel

Narrated by: Marissa DuBois
Length: 13 hrs and 39 mins
4 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

On September 14, 1969, Private First Class Judy Talton celebrates her 19th birthday by secretly joining the campus anti-Vietnam War movement. In doing so, she jeopardizes both the army scholarship that will secure her future and her relationship with her military family. But Judy's doubts have escalated with the travesties of the war. Who is she if she stays in the army? What is she if she leaves? 

When the first date pulled in the Draft Lottery turns up as her birthday, she realizes that if she were a man, she'd have been number one & dashed off to Vietnam with an under-fire life expectancy of six seconds. The stakes become clear, propelling her toward a life-altering choice as fateful as that of any draftee. 

The Fourteenth of September portrays a pivotal time at the peak of the Vietnam War through the rare perspective of a young woman, tracing her path of self-discovery and a "Coming of Conscience." Judy's story speaks to the poignant clash of young adulthood, early feminism, and war, offering an ageless inquiry into the domestic politics of protest when the world stops making sense.

©2018 Rita Dragonette (P)2018 Rita Dragonette

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A Marvelous Novel

This book revisits an important era in history. It is of great value to readers of all genres.

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A remarkable novel

Although this is apparently the first published novel by this author, the style and insight suggest a far more experienced storyteller. While the novel is set in a particularly turbulent place and in particularly turbulent times that most of us of a certain age remember only too vividly—a college campus in 1969-1970, when student activities directed at the Vietnam war were at their peak and the draft lottery was instituted—this work is far more than a historical period piece. The author astutely portrays the self-definitional struggles that virtually any teenager who heads off to college will experience, regardless of the era. The work’s appeal is by no means limited to the generation to which the protagonist—and presumably the author—belongs.

The protagonist is a female college student at a large state university, attending on a scholarship awarded by the US Army to study nursing and then to serve as an Army nurse upon completion of her studies. Without the scholarship, she cannot afford to attend college. She observes a group of students who are organizing protests against the Vietnam war, and out of the kind of curiosity we expect—and perhaps encourage—in our college students, she befriends them. She quickly finds herself swept up in their activities, although she is acutely aware that those very activities may endanger her scholarship. Her struggles to figure out who she is, what she wants and how to deal with the forces and the people around her will resonate powerfully with any reader.

Of course, at the time, only men were subject to the draft, to the draft lottery and to service in combat, and most writings on the Vietnam War era experiences focus on men, both those who served and those who didn’t. But Ms. Dragonette persuasively and insightfully shows us that while the choices available to women and their experiences during this era were different from those of men, they were no less formative and no less traumatic and self-defining. Indeed, the protagonist is forced to find, among her new friends, distinctions between principled opposition to the military involvement and other motivations—self-promotion, unwillingness to sacrifice, need for group belonging—that can drive human behaviors. And she needs to decide how all this fits with her own values and the kind of person she wants to be.

In all, a remarkable novel which this reader (actually, listener) can highly recommend.