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The Girl in Green: Book summary and reviews of The Girl in Green by Derek B. Miller

The Girl in Green

by Derek B. Miller

The Girl in Green
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2017
    336 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

From the author of Norwegian by Night, a novel about two men on a misbegotten quest to save the girl they failed to save decades before.

1991. Near Checkpoint Zulu, one hundred miles from the Kuwaiti border, Thomas Benton meets Arwood Hobbes. Benton is a British journalist who reports from war zones in part to avoid his lackluster marriage and a daughter he loves but cannot connect with; Arwood is a midwestern American private who might be an insufferable ignoramus, or might be a genuine lunatic with a death wish - it's hard to tell. Desert Storm is over, peace has been declared, but as they argue about whether it makes sense to cross the nearest border in search of an ice cream, they become embroiled in a horrific attack in which a young local girl in a green dress is killed as they are trying to protect her. The two men walk away into their respective lives. But something has cracked for them both. 

Twenty-two years later, in another place, in another war, they meet again and are offered an unlikely opportunity to redeem themselves when that same girl in green is found alive and in need of salvation. Or is she? 

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A penetrating, poetic, and unexpectedly disarming book about the ageless conflict in the Middle East by a writer who has made that topic his specialty." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. This is an excellent depiction of the complicated Iraq-Syria situation, especially the desperate plight of refugees and the West's failure to provide peace or relief. Miller caps his stellar, electrifying story with a knockout ending." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. The Girl in Green is a worthy follow-up to Miller's fine debut, Norwegian by Night (2013), which also stars an aging vet forced to reinvent himself." - Booklist

"A provocative engagement with US foreign policy is matched to rich and multifaceted characterization." - The Independent (UK)

"A stunning contemporary thriller." - Thriller Books Journal (UK)

"Written with Miller's incisive wit, intelligence, compassion and authenticity, this is a novel from a writer fast becoming a master of his craft." - Evening Post (UK)

"Miller dives into the complex and confusing world of the Middle East with a depth of knowledge of the region and the forces at play that is obvious on every page. His writing is direct and powerful — it's impossible to read this without becoming angry and upset, but there is humor too, and just enough hope... Verdict: heart-thumping thriller." - Herald Sun (Australia)

"Thrillers using conflict in the Middle East as a backdrop aren't thin on the ground, but Derek B. Miller's The Girl in Green stands above most, both in literary ambition and the complexity of its engagement with the region's geopolitics." - The Age (Australia)

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Cloggie Downunder

exciting, insightful and entertaining: another brilliant read.
The Girl in Green is the second novel by American novelist and international policy specialist, Derek B. Miller. It’s late March 1991, and United States Army Private Arwood Hobbes is at the northern edge of Checkpoint Zulu, “maintaining a vigilant perimeter” in Iraq’s newly-brokered peace, when a British journalist from the Times wanders up.

Thomas Benton is a seasoned war correspondent who’s after the story from a local perspective. With some encouragement from Arwood, he walks toward nearby Samawah, intent on interviews and ice cream. A surprise attack sees Hobbes and Benton trying to rescue a villager, “the girl in green”, but the situation somehow ends badly, leading to their removal from the area and an eventual “other-than-honourable” discharge for Hobbes.

Fast forward twenty-two years, when a lingering feeling of guilt and a YouTube clip see Hobbes and Benton once again trying to rescue “the girl in green”. Is it human design or divine intervention that sees the original players of the drama and its aftermath gathered together again? Their mission is surely insane and bound to fail!

As with Norwegian By Night, Miller gives the reader an original plot with plenty of action, a twist or two, and a thrilling climax. Generous doses of tension are relieved by the banter between the characters, which is often blackly funny. Miller’s characters are wholly believable and, for all their quirks and very human flaws, especially appealing.

Miller’s considerable personal experience in both conflict zones and policy making is apparent on every page and he raises several thought provoking topics, including the intricate coordination and extensive diplomatic skills required in hostage negotiations, the crazy Catch 22 in the Department of Veteran Affairs that exists for veterans needing psychological counselling, the failure of foreign organisations to become familiar with the language, politics and customs of the countries they are purporting to aid, and the fate of national staff of NGOs when their employers withdraw due to escalating hostilities.

Miller gives the reader a novel that is topical and highly relevant in today’s world. Fans of Norwegian By Night will not be disappointed with Miller’s latest literary foray and will be hoping for more from this talented author soon. The Girl in Green is exciting, insightful and entertaining: another brilliant read.

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Derek B. Miller is a fellow at the Center for Communication and Social Change at the University of Massachusetts. His work focuses on building a systematic and rigorous process for the timely provision of culturally-specific security-building knowledge for agencies who are designing interventions to help communities in crises. He has a Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Geneva, a D.E.S. from the Graduate Institute for International Studies in Geneva, an MA in national security studies from Georgetown University, and is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College. He has studied at St. Catherine's College and Linacre College, both at Oxford, as well as Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He has a particular interest in cultural research into security and is dedicated to bridging what he sees as a gap between international relations theory and its actual practice.

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