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While He Was Away [Kindle Edition]

Karen Schreck
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Book Description

One year—he'll be gone for one year and
then we'll be together again and everything
will be back to the way it should be.

The day David left, I felt like my heart was breaking.
Sure, any long–distance relationship is tough, but David
was going to war—to fight, to protect, to put his life
in danger. We can get through this, though. We'll talk,
we'll email, we won't let anything come between us.

I can be on army girlfriend for one year. But will my sweet,
soulful, funny David be the same person when he comes
home? Will I? And what if he doesn't come home at all...?

"A tender and honest examination of love, longing, and loyalty in the face of modern war."—Laura Ruby, author of Bad Apple

"While He Was Away is a wonderful love story with writing that is skillful and true."—Amy Timberlake, author of That Girl Lucy Moon

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up–In the summer before her senior year, while her boyfriend serves in Iraq, Penna tries to stay supportive as she copes with a new job and gets to know her estranged grandmother, a World War II widow. The first-person present-tense narrative, set in small-town Oklahoma, has a surprising and satisfying conclusion.α(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


""the relationship between Penna and her mom... was complicated and broken at times, but ultimately very powerful."- Zoe" - In The Next Room

""Few books have ever given me so many feelings. "- Evie " - Bookish

"" While He Was Away was a very moving, very well written story, and it sucked me in almost from the beginning."-Kreag" - I Devour Books

""I loved that even though [Penna] felt weak, she made herself be strong"- Kassiah" - Fictionators

""...once I opened the book, I did not want to put it down." - Brandi" - Blkosiner's Book Blog

""a nuanced recounting of love, loyalty, loss, forgiveness and healing across three generations."- Blogger Librisnotes " - Librisnotes

Product Details

  • File Size: 1344 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (May 1, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #496,340 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Review from MajiBookself May 28, 2012
I had hopes that While He Was Away would be an eye opening, emotional experience for me, but unfortunately, it was not that. I understood it was about a girl's boyfriend being drafted and going off to Iraq, and the struggles she will be facing once he was gone. However, throughout the whole book I did not feel any emotional connection towards Penna. I felt like there were too many things going on in the book. Unnecessary things that do not have any relation to the main plot of the book but were added to just increase the page count. Penna needing so much to look for her long lost grandmother all of a sudden raised a lot of question marks for me. Her weird relationship with her mother and blaming her for everything just ticked me off. I felt like she was the most ungrateful child ever! Even though her mother sacrificed SO MUCH for her, she still treated her like dirt and that totally rubbed me the wrong way.
Then we've got her relationship with David's fallen out best friend Ravi. After David left to Iraq, Penna had only a handful of encounters with him but somehow the idea of more kept on wedging in to the plot. I was just so confused on WHY would Penna even need to assure herself multiple times that he is just David's friend. Even though all they ever did was exchange a few awkward conversations. Yes, the plot could have gone in that direction, but with barely anything happening and for her to feel that way was just absurd.
To be honest, what really made me so disconnected with all the characters was a scene that happened with David and Penna. They went on a website to play this game where the target was an arabic guy, and the point of the game was to shoot red paintballs so they will splatter all over him (as if he is bleeding).
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing May 28, 2012
I was so, so excited to read While He Was Away - I love the whole idea, and it looked right up my alley. I hate when I'm disappointed by a book I had such high hopes for, but sadly, that's the case with While He Was Away. I wouldn't say it's a bad book, but it didn't live up to my expectations.

While He Was Away turned out to be a little different from what I'd expected. I'm not sure why - maybe because of the last sentence of the description - but I thought it would be about the time when David comes back, about how war changed him, that kind of thing. Rereading the description, I know that's my fault, since it's clear it's actually about how David leaves and what happens immediately after he leaves, but still, I ended up a little disappointed, seeing how little the "war changed him" aspect is addressed.

But first, the postive: Family turns out to play a much more important part in the story than you could tell from the description, and I really liked that aspect. I don't want to spoil anything, but there's some family drama that relates to Penna's current situation. I liked reading about Penna's grandmother and her struggle with Alzheimer's, as well as how her family's past influences Penna now. That was probably my favorite part of the novel.

What I didn't like, though, are the characters. I started out disliking Penna because she's so dependent on her boyfriend. I know, it's got to be hard, knowing her boyfriend is in danger, but how much of her life revolves around him still bugged me. Even before David leaves for Iraq, at which point it would be understandable, David is the most important thing in her life - she has no real girlfriends, and she does art but that isn't mentioned all that much early on.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
When I first heard about this book, I was hesitant to pick it up. Mainly because of its premise. I wasn't sure if I wanted to read a novel about teenage sweethearts separated by war. I admit, I was afraid that it would be either cheesy or over-dramatic, and I definitely didn't need another Hurt Locker. But then the reviews started pouring in, and they were all so gushy and enthusiastic, I knew I had to give this book a chance. And guys, I am so happy that I did! This book proved to be nothing short of brilliant. Absolutely and utterly amazing! Everything, from the poignant narrative voice, to the convincing characters and engaging plot, is excellent. It took me less than a day to devour it, and every moment I spent reading it was filled with emotions. In tender and almost poetic prose, Schreck captures not only the sweetness, anticipation and hopefulness of young love, but also angst, uncertainty and pain that comes from long-term separation. And she does it in a way that really pulls on your heart strings.

The premise of this book is very simple. A boy, a girl, first-love, and the war in Iraq. David signed up for the military service before Penna moved to Killdeer, but even if he could change his mind later, he probably wouldn't. It's something he wants/needs to do - for himself, for his family, for the country. He's scared, but also proud. He's a good kid, and although Penna's far from happy to see him go, she understands how much it means to him. And she promised him she'll wait for him as long as it takes. They will write letters and frequently call each other, and she will support him all the way through it. But that's the thing about life... Things don't always go as planned. Stuff happens. People change, bonds weaken, and fear and doubt slowly take over.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay Read
The book's beginning was great, and the story line of the main character was interesting. Unfortunately, the ending was disappointing.
Published 12 months ago by Elizabeth
3.0 out of 5 stars While He was Away
It was a good read but glad I waited until my boyfriend who is now my husband and father of my child was home to read this.
Published 14 months ago by Amanda Barnett
2.0 out of 5 stars So NOT for me
The cover is beautiful...that is about ALL the nice things I have to say about the book.

I need a HEA BUT the very least I need some type of completion. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Godiva
3.0 out of 5 stars Words at Home Review of While He Was Away
Review originally posted to Words at Home blog July 9, 2013: Read more
Published 22 months ago by Bonnie
3.0 out of 5 stars Wanted More From This
I was disappointed in this book. I wanted more from it, and I went away feeling unsatisfied with the story and the relationship.
Published 23 months ago by Picky Reader 101
3.0 out of 5 stars It was okay
The book was not bad but was not what I expected after reading the title. It is not one I would buy again but for the amount of money it was okay.
Published on May 3, 2013 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars A true reflection
Although my husband was never deployed, he did go through basic training. We were apart for 6 months while dating and being an Army girlfriend seemed foreign. Read more
Published on May 3, 2013 by blm
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my type of book
This book did not move quickly and did not grab you from the very beginning, It was not very interesting.
Published on April 22, 2013 by Randy Huston
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good book that held my interest.
I found this book to be very good and it held my interest. I did not want to put it down/stop reading it. Would surely recommend it to anyone.
Published on April 19, 2013 by Judy Hannon
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book
This is one of the best books I have ever read.It draws you in to the story. It keeps you rivited to the story. best book I have read in a long time.
Published on April 19, 2013 by Kelly A. Stansfield
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