Saturday, 8 September 2012

Books Read: Kristin Hannah - Home Front

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 blissful years together, the couple has 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 the other 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. 

An intimate look at the inner landscape of a disintegrating marriage and a dramatic exploration of the price of war.

In Home Front Kristin Hannah tackles a subject that is a regular occurrence in many military families these days, the call-up of a spouse for a tour of duty to a war zone.  However for most families this would be the husband but in this book it's a role reversal and she tells of the impact to family life when it is a wife that is deployed.

Michael and Jolene have the seemingly picture-perfect life; a happy marriage, successful careers, Michael as a defence lawyer and Jolene as a helicopter pilot for the National Guard, and two beautiful daughters Betsy, 12, and Lulu, 4.  So Jolene is stunned when Michael suddenly utters the words that no-one ever wants to hear 'I don't love you anymore.'

But before they can decide how to deal with his declaration, Jolene is suddenly called up for a tour of duty to Iraq meaning that Michael will have to step up and take on the responsibility of everyday routines, something he's been absent from previously as he'd been so busy concentrating on his career that he's often missed or forgotten important family events in the past.

Fortunately for Jolene she will have the love and support of her best friend and co-pilot, Tami who has also been called up so they can help each other deal with the struggles that they both face in leaving behind their families.  During their tour they see some horrendous sights which haunt them and make them pray that they can make it through and get home safely to their families.

So when their worst fears comes true, how will their families deal with the news?  For Michael and Jolene this is a real test of their relationship, can he overcome his own feelings to help her recuperate as well as help his daughters to deal with what has happened to their mother?

This book was a real rollercoaster of emotions; hurt, abandonment issued, guilt at leaving loved ones behind as well as survivor guilt, all of which were handled extremely delicately.  This was the first Kristin Hannah book that I've read but certainly won't be my last.  Any suggestions as to which of her books I should read next?

I'd like to thank Pan Macmillan for sending me a copy of this book to review.

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