Top critical review
155 of 186 people found this helpful
From a military spouse
on February 8, 2012
While I appreciated the focus on military families and PTSD, I was less than enamored of this particular family and their struggles with a deployment, an injury obtained in theater, the return of the military member, and just life in general.
I found Michael, the military spouse, to be extremely unlikable from the first "this war is stupid and I don't support you" moment. ESPECIALLY considering the fact that Jolene was an army reservist before they even started dating; did he mention how he felt and she said, "okay, no problem, we just won't talk about it for twenty years"? If he was so anti-military, anti-war, etc, why on earth did he marry into such a situation in the first place?
Additionally, Michael was so lost regarding how to take care of his own children that I had to wonder: What ON EARTH did he do with his two daughters when his wife was gone one weekend each month and two weeks each year? In my opinion, this is a huge flaw in the book; if he was married to a reservist then the past 11-12 years (after the children arrived), there would have been these drill absences. Sooo... it would stand to reason that he would have some idea how to care for them on his own, wouldn't it?
Also, after nearly TWO DECADES together, he was such a putz that he didn't realize the caliber of the person to whom he was married? He had no knowledge of what being a military spouse entailed? There were no pre-deployment briefs, info, classes that he would have gone to? As a military spouse, I was inundated with information from the beginning of our marriage, and am still to this day, especially prior to deployments. My husband is active duty and in a different branch of service than Jolene, but my friends who are married to soldiers have plenty of support available to them, even if they don't go to the meetings.
When I read that Michael's mother, Mila, was going to be there to help a lot as well as to practically run his household during Jolene's deployment, I thought, "LUCKY!", but noooo... It was still a disaster. Do you know how many military spouses would love to have even 1/4 of the help Mila provided? The children were spoiled and not expected to contribute to the well-being of the family. Betsy was unlikable to the point that I wondered if it would be possible to just skip over every paragraph that contained her name, but found that to be unrealistic, so plowed ahead, cringing with every bratty comment and action. I could not imagine being at the deployment staging area and witnessing a child refuse to tell the deploying parent that they love them. Jolene's 20 years as a reservist should have taught these children plenty about her job, the military, etc, but somehow her whole family remained clueless.
The issue of being in Iraq was well written, for the most part. There were obviously a lot of details provided by a soldier who'd been there (yes, I also saw the acknowledgements). However, the representation of the former US Marine, and the corps in general left a lot to be desired. Jolene's return as an injured vet was spot-on.
I realize that many of the aspects of deployment, amputation due to a war injury, difficult homecomings and PTSD are probably over-stated to a certain extent in order to make a point regarding our military and some of the obstacles and difficulties they face, but the amount of tears, defeatist attitudes, and angst began to be redundant.
While I usually enjoy Ms Hannah's books, in my opinion "Home Front" was not recommendable. I felt that the book was not only a bit trite, it was predictable and, as others have mentioned, contained too many editorial mistakes.