Author: Kristin Hannah
Publisher: Pan Books 2012
Genre: Women's Contemporary Fiction
Source: Own book
Summary from back of book:
From a distance, Michael and Jolene Zarkades seem to have it all: a solid dependable marriage, exciting careers and children they adore. But after twelve years together, the couple have lost their way. They are unhappy and edging towards divorce. Then an unexpected deployment tears their already fragile family apart, sending one of them deep into harm's way and leaving others at home, caring for the children and waiting for news. When the worst happens, each must face their darkest fear and fight for the future of their family.Kristin Hannah writes fabulous stories and this is one I became totally engrossed in. The characters were real and spirited, the plot was insightful and gritty - and I wept buckets!
Jolene was a woman with a tough childhood - her parents were alcoholics. She learned to be gritty and strong and not feel. " She chose not to think about the things that bothered her; that way they disappeared." Being in the army further cemented this in her. She has an excellent friend in Tami, they know so much about each other, the really know and love each other.
Michael - Jolene's husband is a very work and duty oriented lawyer. For awhile I disliked him as he seemed to be distant from his family - however as the story progressed I warmed towards him as he began to open up to the challenges he met. Their daughters Betsy and Lulu complete the family. Betsy is at middle school and is going through that 12 -13 year old angst of friends no longer finding her 'cool'. She also thinks her mother is 'not cool' and is not proud of what Jolene does for a job. Lulu the four year old is totally delightful and I loved some of her straightforward comments towards the end of the story.
This book gives some idea of what it was like for soldiers to go to war in Iraq and the horrors they encountered. It gives insight into the rampant PTSD suffered by soldiers returning from war. It helps the reader see what it is like for the families left behind and who then must cope with the family member returning from war, changed from the person they once were.
At the end of this book there is a very interesting interview with Kristin Hannah about the process of writing this book, I made sure I didn't read it until the end as I wanted to experience the story first. Loved her answers.
Love this book, it sat on my shelf for a long time, why did I leave it so long!