Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Book Spotlight: A Stream to Follow by Jess Wright


When Bruce Duncan, a battlefront surgeon, returns after WWII to a small town in Pennsylvania to open a general practice, the ravages of his war aren’t over. Haunted by images of soldiers he tried to save, his own near-death experiences, and a lost love, Bruce has little respite before new battles grip him. Bruce’s brother, a decorated fighter pilot, is facing his own trauma, and refuses to accept help. A former friend wages a vicious campaign to stop Bruce from uncovering the dangers that could shutter a local industry where silicosis is killing the workers. And Bruce must decide between the slim prospect of reuniting with the Englishwoman who chose her family over him and a growing attraction to a trail-blazing woman doctor.

With a story that moves from post-war America back to the killing fields of Alsace and to England under the siege of German rockets, “A Stream to Follow” gives fresh vision for paths to healing. Plunging deep into the crucible of trauma, it’s an uplifting tale of valor, resilience, and the search for enduring love.

Read an Excerpt!


October 1945


From high on the main track of the Pennsylvania Railroad, his eyes locked on the mountain stream where it tumbled into the Juniata River. The train from New York had barreled through the gorge before it slowed at the curved stretch where the river went deep, snaking along the cliff and picking up the limestone spring–fed water from Spruce Creek. He had stood on the spot where the streams merged, casting to the fish that were strong enough to feed in the fast current and swirling pools.

When he was in France and Germany, Bruce had pictured this place to push his fear away. It was just a diversion—a way to lift himself away from the slaughter at the front line. But it nurtured a belief that he’d return here someday.

Bruce had been able to imagine with photographic accuracy since he was a boy. In medical school, he could scan pages in textbooks and seal them in his brain. In the war, he blocked out noise from exploding shells while he visualized each step of the surgery that was about to start. Until the battles in January had unnerved him, he could control the flow of his thoughts, take them where he wanted. Since then, imprints of the carnage tore at him.

Even now, when sight of the two streams signaled he was close to home, Bruce’s thoughts ricocheted backward. It was the Zorn this time—the frozen river outside Rohrwiller.

He could feel the ice crack as he reached out to his corpsman who had been hit in the face with the sniper’s bullet. They fell under the surface before he grabbed a tangle of tree roots and pushed Carl through the ice onto the bank. His fingers were numb—they were losing their grip. But he heaved himself up beside Carl. Then the other corpsman ran forward, screamed, and dropped on top of them. The gun had fired again. The red crosses on their uniforms meant nothing to the Germans.

While he hugged the ground, Bruce rolled the dead soldier off them and found a hemostat in his frost-crusted pack. After he clamped the spurting vessel in the hole where Carl’s jaw had been, he lay on his back, shuddering with cold, wondering if the sniper would find him. They hadn’t needed to come out here to find the wounded men. It was a stupid mistake.

Bruce shook his head. Enough, he said to himself. Shut it off.

Sometimes he wished he had taken the amytal injection the psychiatrist had wanted to try on him. But the narcosynthesis theory—get semiconscious on a drug and spill it all out—was too Freudian for his taste. No, there weren’t any good treatments. The memories gripped too hard for simple solutions.

Trying to wrestle his mind back to the present, Bruce focused on the river below him. It was early autumn, and the water level was low. He imagined wading into a shallow section by the bridge they were crossing. His fly rod began to move back and forth, spreading long loops that unfurled toward a riffle that could hold trout. The caddis fly bounced on the water, crossing from patches of sun to shade, riding along with the current in a natural drift. He lifted the rod and cast again. No strikes, but the rhythm of the casts settled him.

JESS WRIGHT: Jess Wright is an internationally recognized psychiatrist who is the Kolb Endowed Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Louisville. “Breaking Free from Depression,” one of his self-help books, has been called a “must-have for finding a way through the pain of depression.” “Good Days Ahead,” his scientifically tested online program for depression and anxiety, has helped many thousands on their path to recovery.

A leading expert in cognitive-behavior therapy, Jess Wright is the first author of a trilogy of award-winning and best-selling nonfiction books that integrate text and video to help readers learn the key methods of this effective treatment. He has lectured widely in Europe, Asia, South America, and the United States.

“A Stream to Follow” is Jess Wright’s first novel. For more information, please visit: 

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