Author: Kristin Hannah
Publication: January 31, 2012
By: St. Martin's Press
Feel like going on an endless crying jag or ripping your heart out, throwing it on the ground and driving your car over it like a million times? Yeah?! Then this is the book for you! Oh.My.WORD was this a tough read! *sobs*
It's a story about duty, honor, love and commitment that's equal parts heartwarming and gut wrenching. *cries* The main focus is the war in Iraq and more importantly, women serving in combat. It also deals heavily with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the devastating effects PTSD has on both the returning soldier and their family. *looks for tissues*
Jolene and Michael, like most married couples, used to dream of living "happily ever after" while raising their daughters, twelve year old Betsy and 4 year old Lulu together but are now just going through the motions. He's on the verge of a mid-life crisis, itching to "find himself" as she struggles to keep with the status quo. Toss in a hormonal preteen drama queen and they've got "We need Dr. Phil" stamped all over them.
Pride, selfishness and hurt feelings can wage a war all their own in a marriage and most couples have plenty of time to play a game of "marital chicken" with each waiting the other out. But when everything comes to a head one night and words are spoken in the heat of an argument, Michael and Jolene's time is up with one phone call that changes their lives forever.
Jolene gets deployed to Iraq and Michael (resentful as a toddler whose toys are taken away) is left at home to be both Mom and Dad to their daughters. (The first day he's with the girls is both heartbreaking and hilarious.) They each do what's necessary in order to navigate their way through these new roles all the while counting down the days to Jolene's return home...if she returns home at all. They both have major "me" issues to overcome and it isn't until Jolene's in a daily life threatening situation that they both recognize they've waited too long to fix things.
Life is full of unexpectedness and crap and sometimes we get some stuck on the bottom of our shoe but it's how you scrape it off that matters. We can spend years with a person and wake up one day only to discover that we've lost them even though they're still right in front of us. How does that happen? How do you get them back? You have to go back to the beginning. Go back to the time when you first found them, first loved them and remember. It's in the remembering, that we realize the best of what you have is what's been in front of you all along.