James Landis managed to pen a war story that is beautiful and gripping and speaks to any reader who has the good fortune to pick up The Last Day This compelling story begins with the words, I meet Jesus on the day I get home from the war Landis follows the experience of a soldier s last day, his interaction with Jesus and his ability to leave family, friends and his life on earth in peace.I love the fresh look at religion from a regular Joe s eyes and the way Landis weaves in bits and pieces of literature and poetry, specifically a few selections from Emily Dickinson.While Landis character development was a bit abrupt in my opinion I think he did a good job of introducing his readers to a large set of integral characters through only one day of activities.I would whole heartedly recommend this book that, while sad in its subject matter, ends with a bright ring of hope. While I don t think that this is exactly how our life comes to a close, I liked that this book urged me to think out of the box To think about my relationships, death, war, and what it all means when it is mixed up together And who can t enjoy a book that portrays Jesus as wearing jeans and driving fast I Meet Jesus On The Day I Get Home From The War I M On The Beach, But I Don T Know How I Got Here My Mind Is As Dark As The Night I Spend The Whole Night On The Beach But When The Sun S Faint Light Begins To Bend Around The Earth, I See Him There, Coming Toward Me, Out Of The Light, Is A Man Behind The Man A Faint Curtain Of Light Rises To The Sky Out Of The Ocean He Wears The Light Like A Robe, Though I See He S Dressed Like Me Jeans And A T Shirt, No Shoes And That He S Older Than I Am, A Lot Older, Maybe Mid Thirties He Walks Right Toward Me He Walks Right Into My Eyes So Begins The Spellbinding Story Of Warren Harlan Pease, A Young U.S Army Sniper Freshly Returned From The Iraq War To His Native New Hampshire What Follows Is A Page Turning Adventure That Is Also A Powerful Meditation On Religion And War, Love And Loss The Last Day Answers Questions And Asks Many Armed With A Sniper S Rifle And His Deeply Held Faith, Specialist Pease Travels Across Ideological Borders And Earns An Appreciation For His Enemy S Culture And For What Connects Us All As Human Beings War Doesn T Test Your Faith In Jesus, Warren Comes To Realize It Tests Your Faith In Yourself Upon Returning Home, He Spends An Entire Day With Jesus Visiting And Contemplating His Own Life With Fresh Eyes, And A Willing Heart He Examines His Relationship To Those He Loves, And Grapples With The Pain He Has Been Carrying Inside Since The Death Of His Mother When He Was Just A Boy.This Extraordinary Work Of Compassion And Healing Grace Combines The Themes Of Religion, War And Poetry In A Way That Is Wholly Original, And Unforgettable It Will Resonate With Skeptics And Believers, Be Shared And Discussed Between Friends And Among Families. Overall, I found this book to be very unique and interesting, unlike any book I have ever read before I was fascinated by the author s intent of drawing out the process of meeting Jesus in the air 1 Thess 4 17 I found my heart echoing many of Warren s thoughts and regrets as well, making notes of things I should make right before my last day I did not so much enjoy the parts of this book that reflected on his time in Iraq They seemed ittered with acronymns that broke up what could have been meaningful trains of thought I did however love the relational aspects of this book War s momories and conversations with Bethie, Ryan, his father, and his daughter Most importantly, with Jesus. The Last Day by James Landis is the truly rare gem of a life changing book It s difficult to write a book in which a contemporary character meets Jesus without writing cheesy sentimentality or preachy discourses on faith Landis stunningly beautiful novel avoids all of those traps Warren War Pease, a twenty year old soldier serving in Iraq meets up with Jesus, who calls himself Ray, on a mysterious visit to his hometown in New Hampshire War meets up with Bethie, the mother of his daughter, Dodie, who he loved desperately, but could never let her into his heart his father, a veterinarian with a unusual view of religion and guns and his best friend Ryan, who has stepped into Bethie and Dodie s lives to fill the void he left when he went to Iraq War jumps around in narration between his experiences in Baghdad and encountering the ones he left behind Landis is a lyrical storyteller who has labored over each and every sentence, constructing them carefully for maximum power and emotion His descriptions of the paranoia and accompanying recklessness of young soldiers are brilliant War is a thoughtful young man who takes his job as sniper very seriously, and readers will find themselves pulled into his life Ray and War s repartee keeps the book from becoming gloomy or dark Ray keeps the reader s and War s focus right where it needs to be on Him In the beginning of the book, I was mentally fighting the obvious ending, but by the end, Landis writing makes War s end a thing of beauty and grace I know it s early in the year, but I am certain that this will make my top ten list of 2010. A young man at war in Iraq, finds himself on the beach in his hometown and can t remember how he got there He looks up and there is a man walking toward him named Ray What follows is a beautifully written story of redemption and grace Highly recommend having a box of kleenex handy. This book has been wrongly compared to Young s The Shack in many reviews If that is what you re expecting, you will not enjoy this book It is not The Shack and does not pretend to be The Shack is politically correct and neatly wrapped up in happy emotions The Last Day is not The Last Day is a glimpse inside of a man s mind when he has experienced love and loss and has attempted to shut out the world It is not politically correct in fact there are many passages that most people would find offensive It is not wrapped up in a neat little happy ending This book is a journey all its own Now, if you can read this novel for what it is, without having to compare it to another novel in which the only thing they have in common is that the protagonist talks to God, it is a good book Landis has a simple yet beautiful writing style, and the story is easy to read The main character is one that most readers probably cannot relate to, since most of us will never enter the military However, he is still a believable character and becomes and engaging as the story progresses His journey with Jesus is very personal and that is important for the reader to remember Not everyone views Jesus in the same way, and many will probably be offended by the way he is represented in this book just your average guy that likes walking on the beach and eating cheeseburgers He also avoids tough theological questions, but never deviates from the journey of faith Faith, perhaps, is the cornerstone on which this story is built. Many others have done a great job of summarizing this book, so I will simply give my thoughts here As others have noted, the way the author depicts Jesus is quite different from the picture many of us have of Jesus, and I m not sure I quite agree with the author s theology Also, the depictions of violence in Iraq are so graphic they turn my stomach But would I recommend this book Absolutely The characters are believable, there is real character development, the dialogue is quite amazing at times, and the author does a great job of making this story work I m curious to know what the author s background is whether he s served in the military and been to Iraq or not, because the details he includes about military life and what contemporary Iraq are like sure do sound authentic.I would recommend this book to anyone high school aged or older I say that because the graphic violence in this book is definitely too much for children, and will be quite disturbing even for adults I think high school students should read with with a teacher to talk to afterwards.Many have compared this book to The Shack, but having read The Shack, I have to say I think this book is far better than The Shack, even though I don t necessarily agree with how the author portrays Jesus. I enjoy reading books about our SpecOps forces SEALs and snipers I also enjoy reading books about becoming a better follower of Christ Imagine my surprise, then, when I come across a work of fiction that not only combines these two literary interests of mine, but gives me something that no other book I ve read outside of the bible ever really has For too many years I struggled with what it looks like to live my life with and for Jesus This book did a wonderful job of showing me what it s like to live in a close relationship with himif only for one day The author does a superb job of weaving the events of two timelines together into one cohesive climaxanswering the many questions that arise throughout the book But he reveals them slowly giving the reader plenty of time to ponder what is actually happening.This book came as a surprise to me as I didn t really know what to expect from it And while I do not think that it is for just anyone to enjoy, I wholly recommend it to anyone who finds themselves wondering about it with even the slightest hint of curiosity One warning do not dive into this book expecting any deep theology It s just not there. Everyone seems to be comparing The Last Day to The Shack, but I find that to be apples and oranges The Shack is a story of faith The Last Day is a love story It is not a study of the nature of God Jesus is a character in the story, but the story is not about him It s about Warren Harlan Pease s last day and return home at the end of his tour of duty in Iraq It s about his love for the people in his life, their relationships and interactions with one another It s about his personal relationship with Jesus not Jesus s relationship with the whole world.I found Warren to be a very real character I like him a lot Everyone was likeable, probably because we were seeing them through Warren s eyes They were also very human They are presented with their frailties along with their good points.The Lat Day is a sad book It brought tears to my eyes At the same time, it s a joyful book because it celebrates love and life It has hope woven throughout with love.This was one of my favorite books of 2009.