St. Martin’s Press
January 31, 2012
Frequently, a book surprises you. This is the book home front.
When her parents died in a car accident, Jolene discovered a new family, the Army National Guard. This group molded her to develop into a confident adult. As she made friends she developed skills such as becoming a helicopter pilot. Eventually, this self-reliant woman met the love of her life, Michael, who was a lawyer and was enthralled with Jolene. The two became the parents of two daughters and established their home.
Anytime the traditional role of husband and wife are reversed, many people have difficulty with it.
This is the situation for Jolene and Michael. Michael works as a successful lawyer heading his family firm while Jolene works as a housewife and mother of two daughters. There’s nothing unusual there except that Jolene is also in the Army National Guard as a helicopter pilot. Now, she has orders to go to Iraq.
Obviously, this turns into chaos for her family. Michael expects the family to accommodate his work demands but is resentful of being placed in the situation of being a single parent for a year. He also is not accepting of Jolene’s Guard family and refuses to interact with them. Jolene realizes that she has two choices. She either goes to Iraq or to jail. That isn’t much of a choice. Before Jolene deploys, Michael’s last words to her hurtful is that he no longer loves her.
Isn’t that a great way to leave your family and to enter a war zone?
Although this novel is skirting the edge of a romance novel, it really belongs in women’s fiction. This novel encompasses more though. The dramas regarding the homecoming of any soldier returning after being involved in a war zone is a realistic and problematic situation that this country tends to not recognize. Whether it is labeled PTSD, post-traumatic stress syndrome, or battle fatigue, or shell shock, as our military suffers from these, we have a responsibility to them and to their families. This novel has one perspective of this.
Personally, I found the annoying twelve-year-old daughter to be very realistic. All the characters were superbly described and developed. My only concern was the tendency to almost being a romance novel.
I was surprised at the strength of the characters especially Michael and Betsy, the tween-aged daughter. Choosing the military life with the complexity with the realistic problems of the military returning home and their readjustment is the underlying theme. This problem could easily have been a novel that would have interested both male and female readers, rather than basically being a novel for women’s fiction.