Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Home Front

Author: Kristen Hannah
Goodreads Rating: 4.07
My Rating: 3 Stars
Length: 15 hours (384 Pages)

This was an advanced reader CD that I got to listen to. This was stepping slightly out of my comfort zone since I wouldn't ordinarily have been attracted to this story line, but I listened to it all the same. This book hits stores January 31!

Synopses from Goodreads.com:

In her bestselling novels Kristin Hannah has plumbed the depths of friendship, the loyalty of sisters, and the secrets mothers keep. Now, in her most emotionally powerful story yet, she explores the intimate landscape of a troubled marriage with this provocative and timely portrait of a husband and wife, in love and at war. 

All marriages have a breaking point. All families have wounds. All wars have a cost. . . .
Like many couples, Michael and Jolene Zarkades have to face the pressures of everyday life---children, careers, bills, chores---even as their twelve-year marriage is falling apart. Then an unexpected deployment sends Jolene deep into harm’s way and leaves defense attorney Michael at home, unaccustomed to being a single parent to their two girls. As a mother, it agonizes Jolene to leave her family, but as a solider she has always understood the true meaning of duty. In her letters home, she paints a rose-colored version of her life on the front lines, shielding her family from the truth. But war will change Jolene in ways that none of them could have foreseen. When tragedy strikes, Michael must face his darkest fear and fight a battle of his own---for everything that matters to his family.
At once a profoundly honest look at modern marriage and a dramatic exploration of the toll war takes on an ordinary American family, Home Front is a story of love, loss, heroism, honor, and ultimately, hope.
Review with spoilers after the jump!
This book made my eyes well down at the end. I don't know if that was because I listened to this while I was working out so I wasn't as emotional, but it surely wasn't for lack of sad moments. I don't think I could even imagine going through what she went through and still be as sane as she was at the end of this book.
I've found writing this book particularly hard because I don't have strong feelings toward this book. I neither hated it, nor loved it; it was a decent book, but I don't think it wasted my time, nor do I think everyone needs to read it. I think that for me int provided a new perspective that I never really considered before.

I don't really like war books, I'm not sure why, but they just don't attract me, but here I was listening to this book about a woman who went off to war. It was heart breaking as she talked about having to writing "Just in Case" letters for her 12 year old and 4 year old while her husband was pouting like a child declairing "I don't love you anymore" two weeks before she is deployed. It was harsh, but that admission made them grow back together.

I wanted to believe that Michael had changed and that he came to love Jolene again, but his attitude at the start of the book makes it hard to believe. I do think that he realized he made a mistake in not trying with Jolene, but his turn around was too quick to be believeable. It was also all too coincidental that he is working on a PTSD case as his wife goes off to war, but that is what books are for right? Unlikely coincidences.

What also irked me about this book was the teenage daughter, Betsy. Maybe it was just the fact that this was an audiobook and when the speaker changed their voice to a high pitched whine whenever being Betsy, but she just annoyed the crap out of me. She was a typical teenager who couldn't stand her mom, but there were times when her cruelty even hurt me. The worst was when Jolene, in reaction to a door slamming threw herself and her awkward prosthetic leg to the ground at her best friend, Tammy's memorial at her home; Betsy yelled "Whats wrong with you? You're ruining my life!" like it was all about her. As much as Jolene snapped at her, never once did she say "For once this isn't about you" or anything to that effect. Teenager are awful.

The scenes where Jolene struggled with coming back from war were the most touching, even when she wrote in her journal about what war was like for her. It was something that I never really thought about and it was terrifying to read about. That along with the case of PTSD that Michael (who was a lawyer defending a Marine who shot his wife) really showed how war affected those that came back.

All in all, it wasn't a terrible book, but it the ending was wrapped up in a neat little bow with everyone happy. (Except for Tammy) I would tell you what it is that made me cry in the end, but then you wouldn't go read the book.

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