Martha Sides

Not to be given short shrift are Dawson’s strategically placed poems and lyrical descriptions which reveal her strong connection to the natural world and, more broadly, to the spiritual realm. The author masterfully uses her talents as a photographer to move the reader from a raw, close-up view of reality to a wide-angled view of the universal.

Through her spiritual nature and self-examination, Dawson learns not only to accept Ben’s decision, but also to support him and the cause he has dedicated himself to.

Two questions are to be addressed:   Does the author meet her goal of reaching out to parents who are facing the dread of a child’s deployment? And would this book appeal to those who have not experienced sons or daughters in war? The answer to both is “YES.”  Through her personal experiences, honesty, spiritual growth, and desire to help others, Ellie Dawson is equipped to lead military families from a place of fear and anxiety to a place of inner strength.  When I shared a copy of When a Son Goes to War, and Beyond with my brother-in-law, who served several tours of duty in Vietnam and whose sons served simultaneously in the Middle East, he called to thank me.  In a voice, breaking with emotion, he expressed how much he wished there had been such a resource to help him navigate his own difficult journeys.

Anyone facing a crisis of any kind in his or her own life can benefit from Dawson’s progression to self-discovery.  Feelings of loss and confusion, as well as desires for explanation and understanding descend freely upon us all.  It is up to each of us to muster the courage to reach deeply into our own hearts to find that all-empowering love that will give us strength to face the past, the present, and BEYOND.

In the last chapter of When a Son Goes to War, and BeyondDawson tells the rest of her son Ben’s story. Drawing from her inner peace, Dawson is able to relate how her greatest fear became a reality, but one that she now is better equipped to handle. She has armored herself with the all-powerful essence of life which is LOVE.

Martha Sides 
MA, International Baccalaureate certified.