Justin's Reviews > While He Was Away

While He Was Away by Karen Halvorsen Schreck
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's review
Mar 13, 2012

really liked it

While He Was Away ended up being much more than I had first anticipated. I knew it was going to be a story about a couple being separated due to the guy going off to war. But I wasn't quite expecting the other things I found within this book. I was really impressed that Karen put a lot of effort into trying to figure out how people that are going through this with the Iraq war are impacted. I've never dealt with having a love one at war, nor can I imagine how it must feel. But from reading this book, I really felt like everything portrayed in it was believable.

The story is heart wrenching. It's sad enough seeing everything Penna goes through while David is away. There is so much to the story though. It's a story about the importance of family, and the things you can learn if you just take the time to ask. It's about how you can overcome loss and cherish the moments you have with the people you care about. It's just a beautiful story, while the main plot line revolves around Penna and David there is so much more that makes it even more powerful of a story than it would be just with that plot line.

I loved these characters. There is absolutely nothing about any of the characters in While He Was Away that I disliked. They are all extremely real and believable. With a story such as this, that is something you want to see. You really feel the sadness, happiness, and everything else that the characters feel while you're reading this book. Penna and David's relationship is put to a test, but you really find yourself pulling for them to make it through the things they're going through. And then you have Penna and David's friends that are there for her and try and do everything they can to keep her strong. Things get interesting once you learn more about Penna's family though, there are several characters I won't talk about but they have a huge impact on the story and really help make this story amazing.

I found the ending to be somewhat disappointing. This always tends to happen to me when I am really enjoying a story. I just really would of liked to have found out more of what happened with Penna, David and her family. There was closure, but I always feel like things could be explained a little better. I know that is a difficult thing to do with contemporary, especially since most of the times I run into this issue it's in a contemporary novel. I do think Karen did a good job wrapping things up. I think my disappointment simply comes from me trying to grasp for more, not that is was a bad ending.

While He Was Away is a great read. It has a powerful story that can really play with your emotions. Karen did an amazing job writing this novel, and as I mentioned above I love the fact that she went through so much effort to make this book feel real to readers. I really think she accomplished that, I know I felt it. I hope you all will check this book out whenever you get a chance. It's well worth it.
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