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Home Front by Kristin Hannah
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Feb 12, 2012

it was amazing
Recommended for: Everyone!

There is a reason I am stingy with 5-star ratings and this book is a prime example of that reason. Every now and then you read a book that is just so far above the rest of the pack that you know you will not soon forget it. For me, this is one of those books. The last one I read that touched me to this degree was Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, which also deserves 5 stars. This is one of the most compelling books I have read in a long time. Periodically I had to put it down and walk away, regain my perspective and return to my own world, but I was never able to walk away for long.

This book centers on the Zarkades family, Michael, Jolene, Betsy and Lulu. It is a book about family, friendship, war, loss, grief, courage, hope and most of all, love. The characters are complete with all the human flaws and frailties that are sometimes lacking in fiction. Jolene, a National Guard helicopter pilot, committed and courageous, willing to die for her country even while being scared that she might do just that. Yet she is also controlling, presumably as a result of her childhood where she learned that she could depend on no one else. Michael, a defense attorney, restless and trying to find a way to cope with the recent death of his father. Betsy, 12 years old and dealing with the typical pre-teen issues of peer pressure and wanting to grow up before she’s ready and whose favorite word is “whatever”. And Lulu, 5 years old and … well, 5 years old, need I say more? These are the most real characters I have come across in a work of fiction recently. There is nothing flat or unbelievable about any of these people. They are good people, nice people; we like them and care about them, even when they aren’t being very likeable.

Things haven’t been quite right between Jolene and Michael, but Jolene is sure it’s just a blip and that this too shall pass. Until the night that Michael informs her he “doesn’t love (her) anymore”. Jolene is devastated but certain they can work through this, until the next day when she receives the news: her National Guard unit is being deployed to Iraq. Jolene’s departure is tragic for all. For Betsy it is the embarrassment of having a mother in the military, the lack of a mother to guide her through those pre-teen traumas. For Michael it is that in his mind she “chose” the military over him, especially now when he is undergoing his own “mid-life crisis”. And for little Lulu it is missing mommy to kiss her boo-boos, read her a story at bedtime and hold her when she’s scared.

One sub-plot is that Michael is currently representing a veteran of the Iraq war who is accused of killing his wife. He is suffering PTSD, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and Michael’s defense is made more difficult by the fact that the young man doesn’t seem to remember what happened the day his wife was killed. The research into this issue is obviously extensive and sheds light on that which most of us have only heard of in a vague sense.

I don’t do spoilers, so I leave it at this. This is Kristin Hannah at an all-time best, this is the book that needed to be written, and that I suspect was simmering in her thoughts for a long time. This book conveys the reality of a soldier going to war and returning someone different. I have read very little by Ms. Hannah before, but I am certain this is her best work to date and will be a tough act to follow. It is very emotionally intense, and one that I guarantee you will be glad you read and you won’t soon forget.

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Reading Progress

February 9, 2012 – Started Reading
February 12, 2012 – Shelved
February 12, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Isabel C. Great review!

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