Wednesday, February 29, 2012

52 Books in 52 Weeks - Book Nine: Home Front

Home Front by Kristin Hannah

I’m ordinarily pretty OCD about reading books in the order in which I obtained them (yeah, go ahead and laugh), but this one came so highly recommended that I decided to make an exception and read it as soon as I received it.

I enjoyed this book’s ability to draw the reader in to the characters immediately. There were some I loved right off the bat and others I disliked intensely, but changed my mind about later in the book. But most of all, I appreciated the insight it gave into the life of a female soldier, the harsh realities of war in the 21st century, and the shaky ground navigated by the families left behind.

The book tackled the subject of PTSD in two juxtaposed characters: The first was a former soldier accused of murdering his wife although he had no memory of the event. The second was the main character (the wife of the lawyer defending the soldier), whose severe injuries and the loss of her best friend and fellow pilot forced her to make a difficult internal journey that led her to confront her turbulent past as well as her uncertain future.

My only disappointment with this book was the neat little package the author presented us at the end. War is messy, and its aftermath is often messier. Yet it seemed that after a good cry and some great sex, the protagonist was able to toss the pills and booze, reconnect with her alienated children, proudly raise herself up on her prosthetic leg and shout “Hallelujah!” and go out and start saving the world, one injured soldier at a time. Somehow it all seemed too trite. Perhaps “happily ever after” works well in fairy tales, but in real life it usually takes a lot more time and effort.

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