I received this book through a goodreads.com giveaway and am legally required to disclose that in my review. I also don't give five stars as a rule, uI received this book through a goodreads.com giveaway and am legally required to disclose that in my review. I also don't give five stars as a rule, unless I am truly blown away by a book or I think it has resounding effects on future literature or the lives of people who read it.
I didn't mean to read You Know When the Men are Gone tonight. I just meant to flip through and get a sense of what it was about. I hadn't even eaten my dinner. "I'll just read this first chapter," I thought, "and then I'll fix something to eat." Before I knew it, 100 pages were gone.
Fallon says in the afterword that she hoped to provide a "window" into life on a military base during wartime. Not having that experience, I can't say for sure, but it felt like more than a window. My heart went out to the men and women in the book, and I cried for nearly all of them. It's beautifully written, poignant with raw honesty. I felt sympathetic even for characters I thought were doing something wrong, which is more Fallon's talent than my good nature.
It was a compulsive read, and throughout it, I felt so thankful both for my civilian husband, sleeping safely upstairs, and for all the brave men and women so frequently turned into meaningless cliches who allow us to sleep safely. And grateful to their spouses who wait and children who may not recognize them when they come home from long deployments. Fallon strips away the cliches and stereotypes and really puts you in their shoes. It's probably about as close as you can get to understanding the sacrifices, the strength, and the will to survive without the actual experiences....more
In compliance with FCC regulations, I am disclosing that I received a copy of Next To Love by Ellen Feldman as a part of the Goodreads First Reads givIn compliance with FCC regulations, I am disclosing that I received a copy of Next To Love by Ellen Feldman as a part of the Goodreads First Reads giveaway.
The perspective Ellen Feldman presents historically is really interesting: The war never ends, at least in the minds of the people who lived it. Some of the trauma fades, but it's changed all the characters drastically. I have not lived a war the way people on the home front lived World War II, so it was something I never considered. If PTSD is a struggle now, of course it was in the 1940s and '50s, and men would have been ashamed to seek help because of gender stereotypes. The emotions the characters experienced were painstakingly recounted, and the nightmares, the guilt resulting from emotional instability, and the strain all of that puts on a marriage were eloquent and poignant. The reader feels what the characters feel.
This was a compulsive read and an interesting story, but the organization made it somewhat disjointed. I don't know if that was intentional, but it hurt the book for me. I think the story would have run more smoothly if, instead of breaking each chapter up into three parts to give Babe, Millie, and Grace equal parts of the story, Feldman had just written the whole book in third-person omniscient, as she did the last chapter. This way, you sort of know what's going to happen before it happens, and as you get to know the characters, you know how they're going to react.
I also felt like starting with Babe the day news of the Allies' invasion comes is a little unfair if you want the story to have three heroines. No one else's perspective is shared from that day until much later, so for me, I started the book most sympathetic to Babe, rather than liking all the women equally. With a different format, I might have been more sympathetic toward Grace, who is probably most like me of the three, and Millie, who is probably the most likable of the three. As it was, I was on Team Babe from the start, and I plowed through the Millie and Grace chapters to get back to Babe....more
I received this book as part of the Goodreads First Reads giveaway.
I wasn't as impressed as other reviews suggested I should have been. The stories arI received this book as part of the Goodreads First Reads giveaway.
I wasn't as impressed as other reviews suggested I should have been. The stories are almost essays and are very loosely connected. A few were powerful, but they were watered down by the ones that seemed to be there simply to move the plot along. It felt like the book couldn't decide whether it wanted to be a series of essays or a narrative memoir and succeeded in being neither.
I particularly enjoyed the chapters where the author talks about menopause, reconnects with her father and discusses her complicated relationships with her mother....more