On the surface, Awaiting Orders (Idylls Press, August 2006, paperback, 236 pages) is the story of young men, waiting for life's next move. They have assembled together in what appears to be a paradise situation - recent graduates of military institutions, they have nothing more responsible to do than lounge around in beachfront living, awaiting their next military assignment. Given today's military situation, is seems hard to remember that the era surrounding the first Persian Gulf War was a time of cutbacks and troop stand downs.
In the book, we meet a cast of characters who are developed wonderfully by Catholic author Farrell O'Gorman. Although the majority of the story is told through the eyes of Wes, we quickly see how his story line is interwoven with that of his friends, both male and female. It is these relationships that are at the core of Awaiting Orders. This is not a war story, or a book about the military. Although it does contain tactical information and is well based in its historical context, the characters and their interactions are truly at the heart of this book.
In the end, it becomes apparent that it is in fact a less noticeable character in the story that truly drives the message of the book home. John, Wes' roommate, seems to operate at times on the periphery of the storyline. However, John's relationship with Wes and with so many of the others in this book is really the focal point. A second and closer reading of the book brought me to the perspective that John is ultimately, in his own quiet way, leading each of his friends in a unique fashion to his or her own vocation or calling in life.
Set in a time so different from today's military climate, this book caught my attention from the first page and kept me glued to it until the very end. I am pleased to give Awaiting Orders my highest recommendation.