St. Martin’s Press|January 31, 2012|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-312-57720-9
In her bestselling novels Kristin Hannah has plumbed the depths of friendship, the loyalty of sisters, and the secrets mothers keep. Now, in her most emotionally powerful story yet, she explores the intimate landscape of a troubled marriage with this provocative and timely portrait of a husband and wife, in love and at war.
All marriages have a breaking point. All families have wounds. All wars have a cost…
Like many couples, Michael and Jolene Zarkades have to face the pressures of everyday life – children, careers, bills, chores – even as their twelve-year-old marriage is falling apart. Then an unexpected deployment sends Jolene deep into harm’s way and leaves defense attorney Michael at home, unaccustomed to being a single parent to their two girls. As a mother, it agonizes Jolene to leave her family, but as a soldier she has always understood the true meaning of duty. In her letters home, she paints a rose-coloured version of her life on the front lines, shielding her family from the truth. But war will change Jolene in ways that none of them could have forseen. When tragedy strikes, Michael must face his darkest fear and fight a battle of his own – for everything that matters to his family.
At once a profoundly honest look at modern marriage and a dramatic exploration of the toll war takes on an ordinary American family. Home Front is a story of love, loss, heroism, honour, and ultimately, hope.
Jolene Larsen lives with her parents who are constantly drunk and fighting. It’s the same situation time and time again – her parents drinking, then the arguing, then her father staggering out the door, and her mother crying saying how much she loves him and what is she going to do without him. Then comes the make-up period where they hug and kiss, say they’re sorry until the next time. Only this last time disaster strikes.
Fast forward twenty-three years to present day where Jolene is now forty-one-years-old and married to Michael Zarkades, a criminal defense attorney with his own firm. They have two daughters, twelve-year-old, Betsy and four-year-old, Lucy. Jolene is a Blackhawk pilot with the National Guard. The Zarkades’s live in a beautiful home along the shores of Liberty Bay in Poulsbo, Washington.
Jolene’s love for Michael is solid and runs deep, although they haven’t been able to spend a lot of time together lately as Michael never seems to make it home on time for dinner or to Betsy’s events at school but Jolene is proud of his work ethic and commitment to his job. Then one night, eleven-months after the death of his father, Michael tells Jolene that he no longer loves her. Jolene is devastated and deeply hurt.
A few days later, Jolene and best-friend, Tami who lives next-door with her husband, Carl and their son, Seth are called to deploy to Iraq. Michael isn’t at all happy about having to become Mr. Mom for the next year and keep up his gruelling work schedule. Plus, he has never supported Jolene’s decision to become a Blackhawk pilot and has never attended any events related to Jolene’s job.
Naturally her daughters, Betsy and Lucy are devastated at the news of their mother leaving them for an entire year. Betsy especially is affected being a pre-teen and needing her mother more than ever.
The day of deployment arrives and Jolene heads off into war with the parting words: “I don’t love you anymore” crushing her heart and her spirit. When a disaster strikes, can Michael swallow his pride, step up to the plate and tell Jolene how he truly feels before it is too late?
The underlying sub-plot in this story revolves around PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) that many of the soldiers return from war with. Many of these war heroes come home as complete strangers to their families and even to themselves.
Home Front is a hard book to read but reminds us how thankful we need to be to any and all soldiers/members of the military and recognize that they are putting their lives on the line for us. I don’t know that those of us who are non-military families can truly appreciate what those families go through. I couldn’t even begin to imagine having to wait at home every single day waiting for word from my husband, son, daughter, cousin or other family member. After reading Home Front I will be sure to say ‘thank you’ from now on when I cross paths with a service person. Excellent read that I’ll be highly recommending.