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Going Overboard: The Misadventures of a Military Wife Hardcover – November 1, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: NAL Hardcover; 1st edition (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451216679
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451216670
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,596,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Smiley, who pens the nationally syndicated column "Shore Duty," is something of an Erma Bombeck for the military-wife set. She wittily and poignantly writes about being a navy spouse left on base with two young children while her husband is on deployment ("the D-word") overseas, just as the impending war in Iraq is dominating the headlines. Raised a navy brat, Smiley is no stranger to military life, but that doesn't preclude the fear, frustration and freak-outs that often accompany her predicament. Fellow military spouses will appreciate Smiley's humorous accounts of attending Spouse Club support meetings, handling household tasks ("My one saving grace was the toilet," she writes about a broken commode in her guest room. "A mental buffer military wives can depend on is the fact that household chores continue despite all else") and simply coping with the realities of having a husband thousands of miles away who might not return. Smiley's prose is simple and straightforward, and her humor is clever, often emerging in passages when she's at her lowest. Curiously, Smiley doesn't express her views about the Iraq war, and she often ignores the conflict's realities as her personal woes take over.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Often funny and always humane, an unexpected voice in a world long defined by ironclad rules and abhorrence of emotion. It is that wry take on the life of a military spouse...one that questions the rules and regulations of the shadow military she embodies, that Smiley does best.”—The New York Times Magazine --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

Its funny, entertaining and a very easy read!
Karen Finder
It shows a person like me that it is ok and NORMAL to feel these feelings, although some of the actions taken in the book may not have been appropriate.
I loved reading the story of Sarah Smiley, it made me laugh and helps me through the times when my husband is gone.
B. Abel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Tamara J. Buchli on February 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
A ghastly book by the sadly misnamed Sarah Smiley. I have a weakness for domestic memoirs (Jean Kerr, Shirley Jackson, Erma Bombeck) and I am, myself, a military wife, so I was excited to find this book and fully expected to enjoy it.

I hated it. A lot. With the exception of books about serial killers, I don't believe I've ever read a book with a protagonist I liked less. 260 pages of whining. No empathy for anyone: poor Sarah always has it worse. Her mother (an admiral's wife) comments that deployments used to be worse back in the days before email. No, says Sarah, email is worse because there is more disappointed anticipation. ?!?

A friend suffers a miscarriage and Sarah has to be literally shamed into going to help her (Sarah doesn't like blood, you see). Nowhere in the remainder of the book is there an inkling of sympathy for this woman (also a military wife) who has had three miscarriages, the last one while her husband was deployed. It's all about Sarah (who has to babysit for the woman's older child).

Another friend's husband is sent home from the deployment and their family must relocate to California (from Florida) in a month. The reasons for this are not specified, but I can tell you that an officer isn't usually sent home early from a deployment for good behavior. Sarah's response? First, jealousy that her friend's husband is coming home; second, discontent that she (Sarah) will be losing her friend!

The worst, though, is her treatment of her husband, whom she is mad at throughout the entire book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Leah on September 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
I, too, am a Navy Pilot's wife with 2 young children who's been through a couple deployments. I recently came across Sarah Smiley's columns and just adored them and her. I found them to be witty and honest and true to life. I expected similar from the book! It let me down. I wanted to admire her, as I did reading her columns, but instead I just got annoyed! I have had so many of the same feelings. There have been so many times I've been unmotivated to get anything done. I have felt loneliness and even helplessness. I have wanted to just check out and let someone else take care of me. But I was disappointed in how she handled those feelings. I don't want to judge her. I respect her for her honesty and her ability to express her story in such a humorous way. But it was not as inspiring for me as I had hoped. I don't think I will recommend this book to anyone, but I will definitely continue reading her columns!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By N. Craig on February 5, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book frustrated me to no end. Sarah Smiley is the helpless, hopeless stereotype that I find myself fighting as a military spouse.

Most people are capable of balancing their own checkbook and mowing their lawns while their husbands are away. While funny at times, I found most of her experiences pathetic and disturbing. Really? Falling for your OB while your husband is gone?

Save yourself the money and embarassment in knowing that this woman calls herself a military wife.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Grenko on September 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I really loved this book. I happened to notice "Going Overboard" in the bookstore, started reading and later ordered it here because I HAD to finish it. Sarah's sometimes irreverent, always self-deprecating humor tickled me and her honesty was admirable. Not all reviewers agree about this, but consider: Sarah felt about as negative about herself as these reviewers felt about her. Here was a woman with a toddler and a newborn left alone for several months to cope with problems she'd never faced before. She'd married straight after college and had never lived alone. Sarah was brave to confess her crush for the "cute doctor" who sort of innocently established a rapport that was almost "friend like". He was kind and flattering and made himself available to her for emotional support. She realized that she was feeling attracted and did the right thing by switching doctors. Having been an Air Force wife, I know that everything goes wrong during a spouse's TDY. One friend with a new baby and a toddler got pneumonia while her husband was away. Military family members have to be resilient and prepared for anything but can only be expected to be as human as we all are. Thanks to all the next door neighbors, church congregations, spouse support groups, friends who step in to help out. Thanks to Sarah for writing about her experience.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Darcele A. Jones on November 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I thought this book was a courageous book to write. The subject matter has very sensitive and personal material in it, yet through humor it relinquishes a great message for not only military spouses, but to all wives/partners whose life partner's career manages their lives. Being an Officer's wife of 8 years, and a prior enlisted dependent of 21 years, the message I took to heart was that I don't always have to be so strong. It's ok to have doubts and weaknesses; and also it's acceptable to not always have a pretense of a perfect marriage. This book seem to look at one's journey and challenge to attain personal growth and how even though freindships are essential, it's the individual person who actually has to decide to grow or not. A person's journey out reaches rank, job titles, or financial background; I believe the message has helped me in my own journey of personal growth which continues daily.
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More About the Author

"an unexpected voice" - The New York Times
"an Erma Bombeck" - Publishers Weekly
"uplifting" - Oprah's O Magazine
"all heart" - USA Today

Sarah Smiley is the author of a syndicated newspaper column that is published in cities across the country, the memoir DINNER WITH THE SMILEYS (Hyperion, 2013) and a collection of essays titled I'M JUST SAYING... (Ballinger, 2008).

Described as an "Erma Bombeck" by Publishers Weekly, Sarah is best known for her honest and witty accounts of raising three boys. She has been featured on the TODAY Show, KATIE COURICs talkshow, Fox & Friends, Nightline, CBS, MSNBC, and CNN. Her work has been featured in Parade Magazine, Huffington Post, Good Housekeeping, Newsweek, The New York Times, and many other publications.

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