by Kristin Hannah
One of my good friends recommended home front to me, so of course I read it. I ended up liking it a lot, but sobbing my way through it from cover to cover. My goodness was it sad, heart-wrenching, moving, and sobering. Hannah is a gifted writer being able to cover deep feeling and complex scenarios. I have more of her books on my TBR list and I look forward to where she’ll take me! However, I will have tissues nearby just in case.
Jolene is a helicopter pilot in the Army National Guard. She is also married to a lawyer (Michael) and has two daughters, Betsy, 12, and Lulu, 4. She loves them all fiercely, so is completely shaken when her husband announces he isn’t in love with her anymore. Her shock deepens when the next day she is informed she’ll be deploying in two weeks. Jolene is heartbroken. There’s nothing she can do about her marriage: Michael is distant and immovable. She is also breaking her daughters’ hearts as they don’t understand why she has to go and can’t simply say, “no.” Forced to leave an unstable family, Jolene deploys to Iraq with her best friend, Tami, leaving Michael to pick up the pieces and step it up as a dad (he’s been very distant with the family). Spoilers: through the months that follow, Jolene paints a safe, comfortable picture of her job, instead of the tragic, difficult reality. Michael is faced head on with what he’s taken for granted. He slowly accepts reality and begins to put his daughters first, earning their trust and love. He also begins to realize that he hasn’t stopped loving Jolene and deeply regrets what he said to her and never amending it before she left. She believes that they are done and that Michael has nothing but disdain for her and her work. Finally, Michael writes the truth in an email, but it is too late: Jolene has just been shot down with Tami and their crew. Jolene and Tami are flown to Germany to get medical help. Tami is in a coma and Jolene has to have her leg amputated. Michael comes to look after her, but the miscommunication and distrust is too great to work through and Jolene sends him away. As she slowly recovers, Michael perseveres, determined to prove his love. For a while, Jolene is too hurt, angry, and frightened to believe him. Even as she gets a prosthetic leg and moves home, she is unable to be her old self, causing pain to everyone around her. Meanwhile, Michael is working on a case involving PTSD and learns about it’s validity and the signs to spot it, which all point to what Jolene is struggling with, but too proud to admit. Ultimately, it all comes to a head when Tami dies, never coming out of the coma. Only then, and only slowly, Jolene is able to admit her illness, accept Michael’s love, and become the strong, loving mother she’s always been. It is a beautiful, happy ending to see the family flourishing after going through such a devastating time.
Summing it up: there is so much angst and hurt throughout the book, but it was still so very good! I recommend it with tissues!
All the best, Abbey