Thursday, March 8, 2012
Review: Home Front by Kristin Hannah
Publisher: St Martin
Source: Personal Copy
Jolene Zarkades grew up with alcoholic parents, and she found herself alone by the age of seventeen when her parents died in a tragic car accident. Alone, scared and on the verge of adulthood, Jolene joined the military right out of high school. She was looking for independence and a place to belong, along the way she found her husband and hoped to have all her dreams come true. Now, Jolene and Michael find themselves facing everyday pressures, two daughters and demanding careers. Michael is an attorney and Jolene, a Black Hawk pilot for the guard. Michael’s father has recently passed away, and he's been pushing everyone away, spending all his time at the office. He’s been getting home later and later, leaving a non-confrontational Jolene to deal with their daughters. As their struggles become more apparent, Michael tells Jolene he no longer loves her. She barely has time to let this sink in, the next day she is told that she will be deployed to Iraq. Jolene and her best friend Tami, have two weeks to prepare their families before they leave them for one year.
I want to warn you, this novel will break your heart into a million little pieces. Kristin Hannah wrote an incredibly moving work of fiction. This was my first book by her, and I was incredibly moved by her words. I don’t usually get emotional when I’m reading, but this book had me in tears. Every character is so well written, and relatable, not necessarily likable but real.
As Jolene tells Michael that she is being deployed, he blames her. He’s never been supportive of her career, and doesn’t understand why she chose to stay in the guard. One daughter is too young to really understand how long her mother is going and the other feels like Jolene is choosing the military over her. Jolene wants them all to understand that she doesn’t have a choice, she is a soldier. Michael resents that he must pick up her slack and take care of their family. He feels emasculated, and makes sure Jolene is aware that he does not support her.
It’s really interesting how all the relationships revolve while Jolene is away. Michael and Jolene’s relationship is broken, and it doesn’t resolve itself very easily. Jolene doesn’t come back the same person she was when she left, Michael is no longer the man he was when she left. Throughout much of the book, I wondered if they could possibly move forward.
Home Front really did give me an appreciation for military families, and the struggles they face. This book is breathtaking, and highly recommended. I found myself looking for every opportunity to read just a few more pages.