"Rearview Sunset," a novel by Wisconsin author Brett Chapman, is a retrospective look at the life of Beau Jamison. It can also initiate a retrospective look at the reader's life.

It was at a friend's funeral that Beau heard the words: "In order to move forward, one must first look back." It was time for Beau to do just that. He had been diagnosed with a liver condition that would most likely take his life within a year. Yet, a year later, he was still alive and his condition had subsided.

Now was the time to look back, to remember those who had crossed his life and how they had affected him. It would not be easy - there were both joyful and sad memories - but it was the disclosure of these memories that would bring him peace and allow him to move forward.

He knew it would not be easy, but encouraged by his wife's words: "It's going to be okay. You'll be given the strength and help you need to travel back there" he began his journey.

The decision to begin his journey began at his cabin in the Northwoods - a place that brought him peace. He wrote in his journal: "There are few things in life that renew the soul and perspective as much as an unhurried time away with loved ones. Those things which on some lesser days present themselves as burdens and responsibilities, oft taken for granted, now appear as rich blessings and gifts that deserve everything I have to give.

"I can hear the trees, water and wind up here, and they all speak of the past present, and future. It is time to look back. As a wise friend once told me, stories are meant to be shared, especially ones that reach into the hearts of others."

He began his memory journey during a week on a small island in the northern waters with only his dog, Highway, for companionship.

We then follow Beau's life through his memories - memories from childhood through adulthood.

Beautifully written, you find yourself cheering for Beau to overcome his bad decisions and find his true path.

A first novel by Brett Champan, I expect we will see more from this Wisconsin author. Champan was born and raised in Wisconsin and currently resides under the stars in the Northwoods after spending several years living and working in Chicago. Together with the Northwoods, he considers the Windy City one of his homes.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and predict it will be a winner.

The 265-page softcover book will be available at Book World in Minocqua at the end of August and will sell for $13 to $15.

Joyce Laabs can be reached at

features@lakelandtimes.com.