Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Review: Home Front

By Melissa Amster

I used to not think much about the effects of war on the people who have fought at the front lines or been involved in any other way. However, Kristin Hannah has given me a whole new perspective on what it’s really like for veterans thanks to her latest novel, "Home Front."

Jolene and Michael Zarkades have been through a lot in their marriage, which is quickly going downhill. Jolene is a soldier who has been trained to fly planes in the military. Michael is a workaholic defense lawyer who has never approved of the war. Then Jolene gets the call she’s been dreading. She is being deployed to Iraq, leaving Michael to care for their kids. Deployment isn’t easy for anyone; her younger daughter is scared all the time, her older daughter is teased at school about having a soldier mom and Michael is unable to replicate all she does around the house on a daily basis. While on the front lines, she tries to sugarcoat her life as to not worry her family, until the day something tragic happens to shake their dynamic to its core. Will her family be able to salvage what they once had, now that so much has changed for them all?

I love Kristin Hannah’s novels and "Home Front" was no exception. It was extremely poignant and eye-opening. Ms. Hannah’s research for this novel shows in her writing, but she gives it a realistic feel instead of just laying down facts. Jolene could be any of us, trying to protect our families and worried about leaving our loved ones behind. She’s so honest and compelling that it was heartbreaking to read her innermost thoughts. I also liked reading Michael’s side of the story, as we don’t usually get a glimpse into what a man is thinking. However, his thoughts were so realistic that I thought Ms. Hannah knew something I didn’t about the way men think. The story had a Jodi Picoult feel to it, without losing Ms. Hannah’s emotional touches. There was a nice blend of dramatic intensity and heartfelt love.

I would have liked to read the older daughter, Betsy’s side of the story though. I felt like I could only really experience her second-hand. Ms. Hannah has a flair for writing in the pre-teen or teen mindset and would have done a good job with this. I was interested in what she was really thinking since her emotions were all over the place and she was having such a tough time with her mom going off to war and her dad not being around when he should. However, Ms. Hannah got her point across and still allowed glimpses into Betsy’s life, showing how truly significant she was to the story.

Ms. Hannah never ceases to amaze me with her writing and “Home Front” really got to me more than I ever expected it to. Anytime I see something about war veterans, I think of Jolene and all she went through during the war. There was also another character in the book who was a war veteran and reading about what he went through was also very jarring. As a result of reading this novel, I’d like to share a few related links with our readers.

*The first is a video of Kristin talking about "Home Front."
*Here's an article about a crisis hotline for war veterans, as this issue was addressed in the novel.
*Here's a blog written by a mom who has been deployed and her feelings on the experience.
*Send a thank you note to a veteran or active duty soldier and Heinz will donate 57 cents per card to the Wounded Warriors project.
*Finally, you can wear a Band for Freedom and show your support for our troops. A portion of your purchase will go directly to help our troops through the Bands for Freedom Veterans Wellness Program (VWP), which is designed to provide the means for qualified Veterans who suffer from the unseen wounds of war, such as insomnia, anxiety, and Depression.

Special thanks to Wunderkind PR for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. Kristin Hannah will be at Chick Lit Central in February and you'll have a chance to win this novel then.

More by Kristin Hannah:

1 comment:

Alexa S. said...

This sounds like a compelling read. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention - it's going straight onto my list :)