Bridget's Reviews > You Know When the Men Are Gone

You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon
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Jan 27, 2011

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bookshelves: 2011-reads
Read in January, 2011 , read count: 1

I feel the need for a disclaimer before I start writing about this book. I have never, ever wanted to be in the military, or live on a military base. I know plenty of people (my sister-in-law for example) who are married to military men, and who do not seem to mind at all. So it's not that I think it doesn't happen, just that I'm not cut out for it.

Having said that, when my husband brought home an Advanced Readers' Copy of this book, I was excited to read it, having read favorable reviews. Siobhan Fallon has lived on a military base while her husband was deployed abroad, and in these eight stories, she writes about military families stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. The stories are from the viewpoints of wives of soldiers deployed to Iraq, as well as from the soldiers' points of view both at home and while stationed in Iraq. They are well-written and heartfelt, and each one pulls you in before you even realize it. They are, for the most part, sad, and also frustrating if you are like me and feel that our reasons for going to war in Iraq were tenuous even on a good day.

The characters feel like they are real people, and I'm sure this is because Fallon has experienced the feelings, sadness, and frustrations of living your life with someone who is in the armed services during a time of war. It would surprise me to learn that the stories and the people in them were not based on acquaintances or personal experiences, or are not am amalgam of several types.

I do have to say that as well-written and compelling as each story is, that this is one of the most depressing books I have ever read. I'm sure that some of it is my own personal bias, but just as much of it is the fact of knowing that real, actual people live their lives and have these feelings every single day. Some of the things I read about what happens on a military base when you live there made me want to scream. But mostly it was depressing to think that every single day, someone who is the most important person on earth to at least one other person dies for what I think is no good reason.

I sincerely recommend this book, but I can't say that I loved reading it. I'm glad I read it, though, so that I was reminded of the fact that war is never victorious for any side when you think of the human lives extinguished as a result.
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