"HOME FRONT," by Kristin Hannah, St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 390 pages (f)
"Home Front" is an emotional read from the start, a novel that will resonate with all audiences.
In the prologue, readers are introduced to the teenage Jolene, who must deal with predictably unstable alcoholic parents who die together in a car accident after drinking and driving one night.
Over time, Jolene proves herself a strong, emotionally balanced woman who has recovered from that difficult childhood. The reader gets to know the 41-year-old Jolene as an honorable soldier, wife and mother who keeps her emotions in check and firmly believes that happiness is a choice.
However, her workaholic husband, Michael, doesn't understand her devotion to her country, disagrees with the war in the Middle East and is too busy with work to connect with his wife and two daughters. In the midst of a disintegrating marriage, Jolene finds out she is being deployed and must leave her husband and daughters behind to help fight the war in Iraq.
The relationship Jolene has with her husband is heart-rending and relatable. It is clear that their love used to be strong, but their differences and the challenges of life have gotten in the way. Kristin Hannah explains the ups and downs of a marriage beautifully. The audience aches and heals along with Jolene as she works on relationships with her husband, two daughters and best friend, alongside whom she goes to war.
Hannah's depictions of complicated and challenging love will connect with all audiences. "Home Front" is not written for liberals or conservatives but for the American people. Regardless of anyone's opinions on war, this book can impact and change lives. Different characters are very relatable at different times throughout the incredible story and many will find something to be grateful for, something to live for and something to share after finishing this book.
There is some offensive language used throughout the book, but occurrences are relatively rare and are used in circumstances in which the author clearly felt the reader would better understand the characters' emotions if these words were used.