Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Home Front by Kristin Hannah Review

Home FrontHome Front by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads: 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. 
My take: Jolene had a tragic childhood which ended far too soon. Because of the tragedy at the end of her childhood, she takes control of her life and enlists in the army where she becomes a Black Hawk pilot. It is in the army that she meets her best friend, Tami, her rock and the one who calls her on her crap.

Now she's 41 years old and the past is put behind her. She lives in the now and she chooses happiness with all of its platitudes. She's switched over to the Guard and is a full-time mother to 4 year old Lucy and 12 year old Betsy. She is married to Michael, a criminal defense lawyer and shares a close relationship with her mother-in-law. All is going well until one day, Michael announces that he doesn't love her anymore and wants to separate.

Before this can be addressed, she is deployed. Michael seethes in resentment. He's always hated the military and her career. He's a rather selfish man, actually. Jolene prepares her daughters and her husband by saying all the right things like she'll be in safe places, yada, yada and then she flies away.

From the book description, the reader knows that something happens to Jolene in Iraq. Her helicopter is shot down, some of her crew die and/or are seriously injured. Jolene is seriously injured and loses some of her physical capabilities. Hannah details how Michael is told about the accident and how the Army, media, and Tami's husband, Carl, respond. Michael is still carrying resentment for Jolene's choices, although he has changed a great deal in the past few months. He flies to Jolene's side.

In Hannah style, there is not a happy little reunion where all is forgotten like a Disney channel movie. In fact, we're only halfway through the book. Hannah juxtaposes Jolene's recovery and all of the losses she has experienced, along with her guilt, anxiety and depression, to Michael and Jolene's resolution. It's not neat or pretty.

With raw honesty, Jolene's injuries are described as is Michael's reaction to it, Michael's coping mechanism, and Jolene's fury and resentment to both her injuries and her perceived death of the marriage.

Speaking of honesty, Hannah's description of the middle age marriage hit far too close to home. I kept having to put the book down to have a good cry. It was painful yet liberating to not feel alone. I wish I had this book a few years ago, although it is better late than never.

This book is for anybody who loves Kristin Hannah's books. It's for the middle age woman (35-55). It's for every mother and wife. It's for anybody who has ever heard the words, "I don't love you, anymore." If you haven't heard them, you're too young or your spouse isn't being completely open with you. It's for anybody who needs a good dose of hope.

Best line might be a spoiler, but here it is: People change.

5 + stars


Anne said...

Wow! What a great review. I have not seen this book before but after reading your review I am going to have to pick it up. It sounds like an emotional but worthwhile read.

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

I loved this book too. I felt so many emotions reading it. I think Hannah is becoming one of my favorite authors.