Home Front

Frankly, I had never heard of Kristin Hannah before returning to the US last autumn.  All of a sudden her books were everywhere.  I guess I made certain assumptions based on the covers’ pastel colors and pretty scenes.

A couple of weeks ago I came across her latest, Home Front, at the library and decided to give it a read.  At worst I could put it down after a day or two.  At best, I might pick up a new author for lighter reading.

As I started to read the book I realized that I really didn’t want to like this book.  Hannah’s writing was rather trite (she always goes for the obvious phrasing) and the subject was made for tv movie schmaltzy.  Jolene survives a difficult childhood and manages to make it into adulthood with a relatively upbeat attitude, a husband, two children and a career in the National Guard.

Then her marriage starts to fall apart.  Then she’s called up to active duty in Iraq.  Then bad things happen.

Seriously, I could have told you the whole book based on a few sentences on the fly leaf.  And yet, there I was 50 pages in crying as I read.  Yes, it’s obvious.  Yes, the writing is mediocre.  Yes, the plot hits all the predictable emotional hot spots.  But yes, I still cried.  More than once.

Home Front is not a great book, but it’s a pretty good read.  The soapy emotional stuff is nothing new, but the coverage of post-traumatic stress disorder and the stress on the family when a mother goes into active duty was interesting and enlightening.  Hannah manages to resolve all the dramatic tension in trite ways, but I guess that’s to be expected in this type of a book.

I can’t say I’d highly recommend the book, but I would say that it wasn’t as bad as I expected.  I got involved in the story and the characters and ended up wiping away tears reading the book at the laundromat.


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