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Keeping Faith: A Father-Son Story About Love and the United States Marine Corps

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In 1998, Frank Schaeffer was a bohemian novelist living in "Volvo driving, higher-education worshipping" Massachusetts with two children graduated from top universities. Then his youngest child, straight out of high school, joined the United States Marine Corps. Written in alternating voices by eighteen-year-old John and his father, Frank, Keeping Faith takes readers in ri In 1998, Frank Schaeffer was a bohemian novelist living in "Volvo driving, higher-education worshipping" Massachusetts with two children graduated from top universities. Then his youngest child, straight out of high school, joined the United States Marine Corps. Written in alternating voices by eighteen-year-old John and his father, Frank, Keeping Faith takes readers in riveting fashion through a family's experience of the Marine Corps: from being broken down and built back up on Parris Island (and being the parent of a child undergoing that experience), to the growth of both father and son and their separate reevaluations of what it means to serve. From Frank's realization that among his fellow soccer dads "the very words ‘boot camp' were pejorative, conjuring up ‘troubled youths at risk'" ("'But aren't they all terribly southern?' asked one parent") to John's learning that "the Marine next to you is more important than you are," Keeping Faith — a New York Times bestseller — is a fascinating and personal examination of issues of class, duty, and patriotism. The fact that John is currently serving in the Middle East only adds to the impact of this wonderfully written, timely, and moving human interest story.


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In 1998, Frank Schaeffer was a bohemian novelist living in "Volvo driving, higher-education worshipping" Massachusetts with two children graduated from top universities. Then his youngest child, straight out of high school, joined the United States Marine Corps. Written in alternating voices by eighteen-year-old John and his father, Frank, Keeping Faith takes readers in ri In 1998, Frank Schaeffer was a bohemian novelist living in "Volvo driving, higher-education worshipping" Massachusetts with two children graduated from top universities. Then his youngest child, straight out of high school, joined the United States Marine Corps. Written in alternating voices by eighteen-year-old John and his father, Frank, Keeping Faith takes readers in riveting fashion through a family's experience of the Marine Corps: from being broken down and built back up on Parris Island (and being the parent of a child undergoing that experience), to the growth of both father and son and their separate reevaluations of what it means to serve. From Frank's realization that among his fellow soccer dads "the very words ‘boot camp' were pejorative, conjuring up ‘troubled youths at risk'" ("'But aren't they all terribly southern?' asked one parent") to John's learning that "the Marine next to you is more important than you are," Keeping Faith — a New York Times bestseller — is a fascinating and personal examination of issues of class, duty, and patriotism. The fact that John is currently serving in the Middle East only adds to the impact of this wonderfully written, timely, and moving human interest story.

30 review for Keeping Faith: A Father-Son Story About Love and the United States Marine Corps

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    Part of the reason I liked this book was because my son is a Marine. I wish I had read this when he was in boot camp. Now he's a Sgt. and looking at a 3rd reenlistment. I was more supportive and less clinging than the father in this book but in the end equally proud. Language is a little rough in spots but is to be expected, after all the military is not known for their pristine language! It did not, however, detract from the message of the book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    sue

    My son joined the Marines in 1999...I read this in 2003 (I believe right after my son was deployed to Kuwait/Iraq) and it helped me tremendously to understand both my feelings and my son's. I learned from this book how important it was that my son joined the USMC. The father's pride and recognition of what it meant for his son to join the USMC helped me find words to my feelings. Great book!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rhona

    This book was recommended reading for any parent with a son in the United States Marine Bootcamp. That's me, and I am so proud. The book was amazing and helped me understand what my son is going through right now. It is a journal of letters between a father and son.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    Interesting story about a father/son relationship as the son enters the USMC. As a parent of a son who is a “poolie”, I enjoyed the story and learned a lot about the Marines and what boot camp will be like for my son. Recommend if you have a child interested in becoming a Marine. Gave 4 stars as some of it was very detailed and I skimmed some parts.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Brady

    As the mom of a young man who has enlisted in the USMC (currently a senior in HS and in the DEP), this book was very insightful. There are so many similarities in our story and the story shared in this book by John and Frank. It really has opened our eyes to the whole different world of military families and I'm very grateful for the candid glimpse of what we might expect and what our boy can look forward to during boot camp.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    Recommended to me by another Marine mom while my son was at Boot Camp, this book was exactly what I needed at the time. Frank Schaeffer, the father, and his son John co-wrote the book, taking turns back and forth. Through letters and narration, John explained the rigors of Boot Camp, the process of breaking down individuality and building up brotherhood. Frank verbalized the worry, confusion, pride and anguish that a parent feels. Together they gave voice to the pride and patriotism of the Marin Recommended to me by another Marine mom while my son was at Boot Camp, this book was exactly what I needed at the time. Frank Schaeffer, the father, and his son John co-wrote the book, taking turns back and forth. Through letters and narration, John explained the rigors of Boot Camp, the process of breaking down individuality and building up brotherhood. Frank verbalized the worry, confusion, pride and anguish that a parent feels. Together they gave voice to the pride and patriotism of the Marine Corps in a way that few others could. But the book goes deeper than Marines and Boot Camp. This was the story of a father and son in the launching years, that time when a child grows up and a parent lets go, when their parent-child relationship morphs into friendship between adults.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Two voices, father and son, through journal excerpts, letters and conversations recount the son's decision to join the Marine Corps and the journey he, and his family, make through boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina. Frank Schaeffer was, in his word, a bohemian novelist living in "Volvo driving, higher-education worshipping Massachusetts". Two older children haraduatefrom top universities. I found the book slow to start, but as the son's transition started and his father's understanding gr Two voices, father and son, through journal excerpts, letters and conversations recount the son's decision to join the Marine Corps and the journey he, and his family, make through boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina. Frank Schaeffer was, in his word, a bohemian novelist living in "Volvo driving, higher-education worshipping Massachusetts". Two older children haraduatefrom top universities. I found the book slow to start, but as the son's transition started and his father's understanding grew,I became rivited. A true insight into the way the Corps' training changes and grows people. I highly recommend this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lynette Caulkins

    This is a highly engaging interwoven father/son book that reveals the emotions and worries they experienced when the son joined the Marine Corps and went through boot camp and then further training. I strongly recommend this alongside "Making the Corps" for all loved ones and friends of men and women who go into the Corps, as well as all poolies and people considering the Corps. It will give you a better understanding of what you will getting into and can help you survive the ordeal. This select This is a highly engaging interwoven father/son book that reveals the emotions and worries they experienced when the son joined the Marine Corps and went through boot camp and then further training. I strongly recommend this alongside "Making the Corps" for all loved ones and friends of men and women who go into the Corps, as well as all poolies and people considering the Corps. It will give you a better understanding of what you will getting into and can help you survive the ordeal. This selection is more personal, focused on the pair's experience, where "Making the Corps" follows an entire platoon and includes more information about the Corps itself and its philosophies.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Edens

    What a remarkable story of a father and his son's journey to become a Marine. Frank and his son John Schaeffer alternate chapters and letters from the time John meets with his recruiter, through boot camp, graduation, and John's long wait for the security clearance he needs to pursue his MOS or specialty in military intelligence. Honest and soul-baring, at times very difficult to read, the pain, suffering, joy and triumph are all very real. With our son in Marine Corps boot camp right now this h What a remarkable story of a father and his son's journey to become a Marine. Frank and his son John Schaeffer alternate chapters and letters from the time John meets with his recruiter, through boot camp, graduation, and John's long wait for the security clearance he needs to pursue his MOS or specialty in military intelligence. Honest and soul-baring, at times very difficult to read, the pain, suffering, joy and triumph are all very real. With our son in Marine Corps boot camp right now this has been the perfect book to learn what he is experiencing and gain insight into why the Marines are the few and the proud.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kelly D.

    This book is recommended for any parent who has a child going to boot camp. My son is leaving for boot camp next month and I couldn't be more proud! This book alternates between the father and the son what the experience was like for both of them. I very much enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any parent who has a child leaving for boot camp or for anyone who is considering enlisting in the Marine Corps.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Interesting book that relates the feelings and anxiety that recruits and parents go through while their son/daughter is away at boot camp en route to become a US Marine. However, I was a bit disturbed at the father as he is kind of psycho. In fact, by the end of this book I was disturbed at the relationship between father and son overall. Loving your kid is one thing, but this was more of an obsession.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jennie

    I read this book while my son was at marine corps boot camp. It was one of the books recommended to recruit parents to help them through the boot camp experience. It was good to know I was not the only patent worried beyond belief. I loved the sons poetry and shared some of it with my son via letter... Which was the only way to communicate with him during the 13 weeks he was in training. Great book for any parent with a son/daughter who is about to ship off to or is at boot camp! Semper Fi!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Goode

    a great read for anyone who has any interest or family/friends in the Marine Corps... An extremely insightful look into the changes that occur in one man as he goes through boot camp at parris island. Just to see what these people go through is enough to make you think twice about you freedoms and life as a civilian.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    A must-read for anyone planning to join the Marine Corps, or the parents of recruits. My son is currently at Parris Island for boot camp, and this book gave me a detailed look at what his life is like. The story is told from both the father and the son's point of view as he progresses through what is widely known to be the toughest boot camp of all the military branches.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I just finished this book and would highly recommend it. As you can see it's written by a father and son and the majority of it covers boot camp and includes letters they wrote each other. I really have a much better understanding of what my recruit is going through, as well as a deep respect and appreciation for the United States Marine Corps.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    i read this while my brother was in bootcamp! i learned a lot about their life in boot camp...and there were even some pointers that i told my brother about and also some tips for the families...it was really a great read to help us get through that time...and the relationship of the author and his son was very touching!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    Highly recommend this book to any parent with a child going into the Marines. This gave me a lot of insight into what my son will be going through when he goes through Marine boot camp this spring. The son's perspective through his letters, poems and narrative was compelling. I was less interested in the father's letters and usually skipped those parts.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ashleigh

    Recommended to me by old Nate Skayffer...very touching...especially as a Marine. I go through life feeling somewhat bullet-proof...it's helpful to see a parent's perspective on their child (as we are all still five-years-old playing dress up in their eyes) going through boot camp and serving their nation.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marquita

    With a son in the Marine Corps, I really enjoyed this journey of a father and son into the Marine life and deployment to Iraq. This author has a captivating writing style. I could not put this book down and thus read the companion book, "Faith of our Sons."

  20. 5 out of 5

    Shelly

    This was a great book to help me get ready for what Logan is currently enduring. It's written by both the Marine and his dad. Each gives his own prespective of the same events.

  21. 5 out of 5

    James Preston

    A very well written, captivating, funny, and informative book. An excellent account of a father's struggle with his child's decision to join the Marine Corps.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Judi Gilmore

    This book is great. My Nephew is in boot camp at Perris Island and this book tells you exactly what is going on during boot camp. I love it and I am so very proud of him for joining the Marines!!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jae Berry

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Battles

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sam Sattler

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  28. 5 out of 5

    Debora Acciarito

  29. 4 out of 5

    Pam

  30. 4 out of 5

    Johnny Wimmer

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