A few weeks ago, I was given an advance copy of Kristin Hannah's novel Home Front, which was released yesterday. Rarely do I promote books about military life when the book is written by someone outside of the military community. I've grown cynical about people with no inside view trying to capture pieces of our lives. All too often, they reach for the easy button and the results are frustratingly predictible. But in all honesty, I thoroughly enjoyed Home Front.
The military spouse in Home Front is a male, which was a welcome departure from the normal female-as-milspouse character. It was interesting and enlightening to see milspousedom (especially during a deployment) through the eyes of a male, even a fictitious one. Another interesting element of the story was that the service member was a reservist rather than an active-duty soldier. I've heard from many Guard and Reserve spouses who feel their experience is often overshadowed by the experiences of active-duty families.
Kristin does a fantastic job balancing the joys and challenges which make up the modern-day military experience. She manages to avoid the common pitfall of overreaching with respect to emotions closely associated with military life in a time of war; pity, fear, pride, stress, honor, sacrifice and commitment to comrades and country.
Military life tends to break your heart and put it back together over and over again. I was encouraged to see this captured in such a meaningful way.
One part of the book I found particularly interesting had to do with the challenges of wounded warriors. I was a volunteer for many years at Walter Reed and based on what I saw, I was surprised that Kristin managed to explore the emotional stages experienced by wounded service members and their families so well. The real story about wounded warriors is ultimately one of promise, and not pity.
I began reading the last 154 pages at 10:00 in the evening and didn't put the book down again until I had finished it. Home Front was a refreshing departure from what I've come to expect from authors who aren't steeped in military culture. I highly recommend the book to everyone, not just military spouses.
And while we're on the subject, I'll take the opportunity to once again recommend The Spy's Wife, an excellent book written by one of our own. If you have other book suggestions for our readers, please leave your suggestions in the comment section.