Wednesday, March 23, 2011

You Know When The Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon

GoodReads Summary:

"In Fort Hood housing, like all army housing, you get used to hearing through the walls... You learn too much. And you learn to move quietly through your own small domain. You also know when the men are gone. No more boots stomping above, no more football games turned up too high, and, best of all, no more front doors slamming before dawn as they trudge out for their early formation, sneakers on metal stairs, cars starting, shouts to the windows above to throw them down their gloves on cold desert mornings. Babies still cry, telephones ring, Saturday morning cartoons screech, but without the men, there is a sense of muted silence, a sense of muted life.

There is an army of women waiting for their men to return in Fort Hood, Texas. Through a series of loosely interconnected stories, Siobhan Fallon takes readers onto the base, inside the homes, into the marriages and families-intimate places not seen in newspaper articles or politicians' speeches.

When you leave Fort Hood, the sign above the gate warns, You've Survived the War, Now Survive the Homecoming. It is eerily prescient."

This was a hard book for me to read. 

I was drawn to this book, in hopes that it would not be a political condemnation of the military. It wasn't.
The stories were emotionally engaging and very well written. I really wanted to like this book, and deep down a part of me did.

However, as a military wife, I'm tired of stories that only show the down side of military life. That is not to say that I only want to read Pollyanna like stories were all is well and everyone gets a long.  I just want to see a more balanced story.  Perhaps I should just right my own.

What I do like about this book is that while the stories do not necessarily show the  life of an Army wife in the most positive light, they are realistic.  Having gone through a number of  times "when the men are gone", I have seen many situations like those described in the stories.

If you are looking for a political statement on the military or the war, this is not the book for you.  If you are looking a feel good book about military life, this is not the book for you.  If, however, you are looking for a well written, emotionally engaging glimpse into just some of the challenges our military families face, then you should read this book.

As I said this was  hard book for me to read. I'm glad I did and I've even added it to my wish list.  However, I'm not sure I will recommend it to my fellow Army wives.


Erica and Geoff said...

I was so curious to see what you thought of this book. You sumed up exactly what I thought. When people asked what I thought I had total mixed feelings...but like you I am glad I read it.

Booklady said...

It has made me think even more about writing my own book. I usually dream about writing a murder mystery with an Army wife as the sleuth. But, this one has made me think about writing a book of short stories with a more balanced view - the GOOD and the bad.