Home Front by Kristin Hannah
Another amazing novel by Kristin Hannah! I didn't think she could top Night Road, but she certainly did with this one. I could not put the book down and have been raving about it to my coworkers for days. Jolene Zarkades is a wife and mother of two young daughters and.....a Black Hawk Pilot with the National Guard. Her husband, Michael, is a workaholic defense attorney who puts in long hours and is losing touch with his family. With their marriage of 12 years on shaky ground, the unthinkable happens; Jolene is deployed to Iraq. To make matters worse, on the day before she learns that she must go to Iraq, her husband tells her he doesn't love her anymore. Kristin Hannah pulls you into the story and you actually FEEL the emotions of each character. There is no hero in this book. I found myself alternating between cheering on and total frustration with each character at some point in this story. Jolene knows she made a commitment to her country, but it is so hard for her to leave her teenage daughter who is just entering that awkward stage and needs her mother's guidance. And then there is little Lulu, only 4 years old, who cannot understand why Mommy won't be home for her birthday.
I never fully realized the hardships and sacrifices of military families. We have all read books about soldiers going off to war, but not many about the female soldiers that must leave their children and spouses behind. For many soldiers, problems don't end when they set foot back on U.S. soil, sometimes it's just the beginning. Many veterans come home and are then facing their own private war every day, whether it is due to physical injury or psychological trauma. For me, the realities of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) were brought to light, as well as the lack of support our brave men and women receive in regards to this condition. In the book, Michael is defending a soldier accused of killing his wife who hasn't been himself since he returned from serving two terms in Iraq. The horrors he experienced stayed with him while he tried to fit back into civilian life. When Jolene finally makes it home from Iraq, Michael better understands her strange behavior is the after-effects of her tour of duty. Get the tissues ready – you will need them for this one.