Monday, January 30, 2012

Home Front by Kristin Hannah

How often do we truly look at the families left behind when we’re watching TV and see troops leaving for war? The media doesn’t cover the injured soldiers who return, unless something goes tragically wrong. Kristin Hannah’s novel, Home Front, is a moving story that shows the tragedy inside families, the tragedies we don’t think of when we send troops off to war zones.

Jolene Zarkades grew up in a dysfunctional family, watching her mother plead for the love of her alcoholic family. At seventeen, she lost both parents when her father drove drunk, and there was an accident. As soon as she could, she enlisted, and found a family, the military, and a role in life flying helicopters. It was her first love, and her best friend, Tami Flynn, was right there beside her for ten years in the army. Both women moved on to the National Guard so they could be home with the men they married, and their families.

Jolene loved her husband, Michael, and her two daughters. At twelve, Betsy was just starting to go through the rough pre-teen years. Lulu hadn’t even started kindergarten yet. When Michael sank into depression after the death of his father, she expected him to “choose happiness” as she did in her life. Instead, he spent more and more time at his office, until one night he changed their world, saying, “I don’t love you anymore.”

Those are the words that would haunt both of them when Jolene and Tami’s unit was called up to deploy to Iraq. “She’d always been two women – a mother and soldier – and this deployment ripped her in half, left a bloody, gaping tear between the two sides of her.” As she left behind daughters, knowing she wouldn’t see Lulu's first day of kindergarten or her fifth birthday, Michael was left in a role he was not prepared to play, the parent responsible for caring for two girls. And, they would both remember those words, “I don’t love you anymore.”

Chief Warrant Officer Jolene Zarkades flew helicopters in Iraq, hiding the risks from her family, until it was too late to hide the danger. When disaster struck, no one in the Zarkades family was prepared to deal with the changes in their lives.

Kristin Hannah’s Home Front is both heartbreaking and inspiring. It’s a novel of family, and a story about courage, in so many forms. It’s a story seldom told, that of a woman who is career military, and the family she is forced to leave behind. It’s a powerful story revealing troublesome issues about our returning troops. Sometimes fiction has the ability to uncover issues that aren’t as easily seen in nonfiction. Home Front does that, taking readers inside a military family, before and after tragedy.

Home Front is also available from Macmillan Audio. Here's a clip, if you'd like to hear it.

Note: Tuesday is release date for Hannah’s book. I have an interview coming up soon with her, about this book. And, this week’s book giveaway, starting Thursday night, will be copies of Home Front.

Kristin Hannah’s website is

Home Front by Kristin Hannah. St. Martin’s Press. ©2012. ISBN 9780312577209 (hardcover), 390p.

Macmillan Audio. Unabridged. ISBN 9781427212658.

FTC Full Disclosure – I was sent copies of the book in order to participate in a blog tour.


Kay said...

I am very much looking forward to reading this new book. The issues are so timely and I've loved her books in the past. Feel like I kind of need to gear myself up for it - prepare - as I can tell it will be an emotional read.

Lesa said...

I've really liked Kristin Hannah's books in the past, Kay, but this is the best one yet, in my opinion.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Sounds like a powerful story, if a heartwrenching one! I'll look forward to reading her new book. I need a story to pull me in right now.

Lesa said...

Kristin Hannah's books usually pull me in immediately. I like the characters she creates. This one was even better than usual.

Ingrid King said...

This sounds like a tough read because of the subject matter, but I always like Kristin Hannah's books, so I'm definitely adding this one to my TBR list.

donna said...

Even though most of the books that I read are mysteries, I have read all of Kristin Hannah's book and really like them. I am looking forward to reading this one - especially since you say it is the best one yet. She is very meticulous with her research and her characters can certainly bring you to tears. Look forward to the contest - maybe this will be my lucky time!

Sue Farrell said...

Our local National Guard Unit has returned from deployment not too long ago. I've stuggled with talking to one of my acquaintances who is in the unit. Maybe this book would help me understand her situation.

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Fishing Charter Skagway said...

The story was riveting, fast-paced, and Hannah's ability to make the reader care about the characters was dead-on. This was a good, quick read.

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The characters were realistic. The plot was complicated but the story flowed easily. It was a book I did not want to put down, even for a second, so I read it straight through. There are a lot of different subplots going on in the book and I would think this would be a good book club selection. I can see a lot of discussion being raised by many of the topics raised in this story.