This book is aggravating.
It starts out pretty well with the women who sent husbands to Afghanistan in the first "Band of Sisters" book getting their husbands back home — except for one.
"Band of Sisters: Coming Home" picks up the stories of Marianne, Jessie, Kim, Brenda and Nora as they deal with change, loss, teenagers and heartache.
The author, Annette Lyon, has matured in her writing ability and the story moves right along, for a while.
It's sort of confusing to keep the women and their situations straight as the character personalities are still pretty much the same and the stream of the story changes with each new chapter.
And it's kind of hard to accept that in a couple of situations, the troubles are piled on. (The husband who is controlling and emotionally abusive is also addicted to cigarettes, coffee, alcohol and porn. The teens who are out of control are mouthy, self-destructive and addicted to drugs. The one wife is afraid, worried about the finances without a working spouse and pregnant.)
As far as the problems that follow the men home to their families, those feel pretty real, and it's clear Lyon has talked extensively to those who have been living the situation or she's been through it herself.
The returned soldiers are in various states of post-traumatic stress from having nightmares and anxiety attacks to changing their lifestyle choices.
One loses his job while another has to learn to deal with a much more independent wife.
The wives have to give up some of their autonomy and adjust to having a man back in their lives.
It's also clear that Lyon understands emotional abuse where nothing is physically damaging but the cold silences and recriminations hurt just as badly.
The problems with the book come toward the end when the huge problems are too simply wrapped up.
Therapy works. A little advice from a grown daughter helps one wife see where she isn't giving her husband enough credit.
The husband who pops up with a bouquet of roses suddenly has his wife feeling like a bride again and the baby takes an extra-long nap.
The bishop of one couple very quickly gives up on the abusive/addicted husband and sends him to a church disciplinary court. The wife is able to just walk way from this guy with a hair-trigger temper. (Abused wives everywhere would probably be surprised that it can be that easy and safe.)
Military organizations set up to help soldiers with re-entry would probably agree that it takes more time and more counseling (for the family as well as the soldier) than this book implies.
Solutions aren't this simple in real life.
So while "Band of Sisters" make for an entertaining story for a while, the end result is unsatisfying and even maddening.
It could be such a better book.
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.
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