Heartbreaking, visceral and raw emotion all tumbling into one. I did not want to read it at first. Yet another book about yet another soldier going and then returning from Iraq. Since I promised to review it, I started reading. I quickly found I could not put the book down. I read it until all hours of the night, standing in line at the grocery store and then got chided for reading it at the high school basketball game while I was sitting in the bleachers. Here’s why I think you should read it too.
I’m going to be honest. I have only read one other book that dealt with either a soldier “over there” or one coming home. Since DH is gone and goes “over there” a lot, I just didn’t want constant reminders bombarding me for my reading enjoyment. I just didn’t.
I briefly read the back cover and saw, ah ok, this chick is having a troubled marriage and goes on deployment and then it goes on to talk about love, loss, heroism, honor and also hope. Hmmmmm, that is different and of course made me a little curious as to what made this book different.
Jolene, the main character is a tough-as-nails helicopter pilot in the Army National Guard. She was active duty and then got out to raise her family. She’s the kind of person we all want to be. Strong, confident and with a deep friendship to another female helicopter pilot who came through the ranks with her, trained with her, and is her best friend and fly buddy.
Of course this is where the dark cloud gradually creeps its way in. There is some kind of disconnect between her and her attorney husband, who pretty much hates everything about the Army and certainly doesn’t want to be a dependent. Their oldest daughter, a tween, is embarrassed to have an Army mom and says as much. She also has all the other typical tween stuff going on where she tries to assert her independence and sassiness right back at her parents, especially her mother. Her father is just too busy to bother and suddenly becomes busier with a new client, a veteran soldier who comes from Iraq so screwed up that he blows his wife’s head off before he even realizes what happens. PTSD? Perhaps. You’ll find out later and also follow along during his trial.
Right around this time Jolene gets her marching orders to go to war, along with her best friend Tami, also in her unit. They are a team and fly together. They have a crew that is their second family. For those of us who have been in the military, Jolene’s military family is the ideal situation of teamwork, mutual respect and looking out for each other. Even with everything going swimmingly at the Armory and work, Jolene leaves her family with many things left unsaid and undone. That is where her life is literally falling to pieces.
I don’t want to spoil the rest of the story. I always hate reading reviews that give everything away. Suffice it to say that the story has some serious hard turns. You will be needing the Kleenex. You will turn pages and have to blink away the tears so you can read what happens next. You will get a touch of what true misery and pain feels like through the author’s eloquent choice of words. You will find out what true friendship is all about and when you think the story is going to wrap up and be somewhat happy (cause there is no perfect ending here), it takes a few more nosedives before the story is completely shared.
Yes, this is fiction (did I mention that?), but I know on so many levels, stories like this one are developing all over the US. Servicemembers are coming home, when they come home, broken. And many times, you cannot even see the hurt and agony. It’s all inside. Many don’t even get the chance to struggle through that and come home in a body bag…still today…from Afghanistan mostly. There are many families out there struggling with the acceptance of a soldier choosing this career. I’ve had someone mention to me once, why would anyone choose to go into harm’s way? You’ll see Jolene struggle with that AND being a mother and wife.
After I turned the last page, I felt things were as right as they were going to get in this family’s life. There really could have been no other ending. I urge you to read the book from this New York Times bestselling author. Kristin Hannah is a practiced storyteller who truly makes you believe you are in the thick of it and surprisingly, she has a knack for making you feel what the characters are feeling. Only good writers can make you feel that, and when I read that she did some major research for the book, I understood why. You may even get something out of it to help you in your relationship with your soldier, Marine or airman, as well as with your family. We are all different in our military lives but somehow we are the same. Read. Take what you need. Leave the rest. Embrace your life, cause it’s the only one you’ve got!
Listen to an audio clip of “Home Front” The audiobook is available from Macmillan Audio.
If you read it, tell me what you think! I believe it gets released on 31 January…very soon! You can click here to pre-order it if you like.