“He hadn’t known shit. The cost of war was here, in this room. It was families being torn apart and babies born without their parent at home and children forgetting their mother’s face. It was soldiers– some of them his age and others young enough to be his sons– who would come home wounded … or not come home at all.”
Home Front by Kristin Hannah
Summary: Michael and Jolene’s marriage is falling apart–they are not even sure they love each other anymore. Add to that a 12 year old moody almost teenager, and a 4 year old who likes to play kitten. Oh let’s not forget that Jolene is a pilot for the Army National Guard unit, and they are deploying. Deployment and homecoming throw this family through changes and realizations that will break and mend your heart in a very meaningful way.
Review: I am not a crier. I don’t cry during movies, weddings, or even when my own husband deploys. I don’t cry during a book. But I did cry in more than one place through this book by Kristin Hannah.
I received mixed feedback for this book. I think a major problem a lot of people have is that a (military) family is not supposed to act this way! But I think focusing on that is missing the point entirely.
A lot of people didn’t like the characters. I for sure did not like Michael in the beginning, and thought the kids were bratty. I was less sympathetic to Jolene than I thought I would be. But this book isn’t about fake happiness, but rather a candid look at the human condition: our feelings, thoughts, and actions. Michael was a jerk and a half in the beginning of the book, but he learned he was wrong and grew. Being a military spouse myself, I understood the feelings of abandonment, guilt associated with being the one left behind. Jolene was cold and fake–who learned the true value of her feelings. I recognized the need to keep your family from worrying about you. Betsy is a confused tween, learning to navigate the world, and Lulu is this bright eyed child who sees the world simply as only a child can. Those children were not any different from the children who are confused and do not understand what is going on around them. Each character was flawed but written in a manner that you cannot help but identify with.
There are many layers to this book. You have the marriage that is falling apart, and both have to learn to give and take. Jolene and Michael cannot relate to their children, and it shows. Then there is the deployment on top of all of their already there problems. When tragedy strikes, everything comes to head, and they have to face their troubles. Hannah has crafted a story about a real family. The story evoked different feelings in the reader, from disgust to love and everything in between. The ending is happy, sad, and bittersweet–a good emotional roller coaster.
If you are looking for the perfect military family–don’t look here. We probably don’t exist, anyways. But if you are looking for a sweet story about a genuine family wading through their struggles, then I highly recommend this book.
Sex: a short non graphic sex scene
Violence: Scenes of war, nightmares getting out of hand
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars