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if you like feeling time

The Door Behind Us - John C. Houser

The first thing that comes to my mind when thinking of this story is that it is almost a moody piece.

And yet, it’s a lively story with MCs struggling to come to terms with war trauma, being gay, and overall growing up, which sends them wandering across the country in search of their place,  progressing toward their happy ending with realism and unavoidable secrets and concessions.


As far as war is concerned, the setting is post WWI. I was curious about a perspective on the Great War that would be different from my French self-centered one, but the author didn’t dwell on this side of the story, which is fine.  I got young men who’d lost a part of themselves, whether it is a limb, memory, or the blissful innocence of someone who didn’t see war closely. That’s pretty much universal.


“The door behind us” is about a piece of time, certainly. The MCs wanderings are not so much incredible adventures than opportunities to meet people and to feed the story with characters, anecdotes and scenes that are as many portraits and often humorous vignettes of this time.I found however that it was about time itself. The time as it was felt back then, but also the time you need to heal, to build a relationship, to figure out what you want to do with yourself. There is not a plot line that isn’t slowly developed; yet, the writing flows smoothly and the story never drags, only makes time pleasantly tangible.


I liked Frank and Jersey just fine and their romance is sweet, but this feel of time is how the story spoke the most to me. I also liked very much the light but recurrent reflections on what it means to remember and to be remembered, on the tracks people leave behind.


All in all and in short, “the door behind us” was an easy, enjoyable read that put me in a dreamy mood. I liked it very much, and I closed it with the same feeling as when I was lucky enough to look at sepia pictures and hear firsthand stories of this time from my great grandmother. It was the pleasant nostalgia of a time I couldn’t miss, and yet felt a strong, very vivid link with.