- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books (July 5, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143108662
- ISBN-13: 978-0143108665
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 47 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #738,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The War at Home: A Wife's Search for Peace (and Other Missions Impossible): A Memoir Paperback – July 5, 2016
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“With compelling prose, Starnes delves deeply into the emotional ups and downs she experienced as she formed new friendships only to have them torn apart when they needed to move again, of the hurdles she faced raising her two sons for months at a time by herself, and of her own desires to be a writer, to be more than just a military wife, and to have some identity of her own. . . . The writing is often dramatic, providing readers with a behind-the-scenes look at military life from a unique perspective: that of the silent partner who endures separation, secrecy, and the fears that her husband may be the one who doesn't make it back. A gripping and guileless account of being the wife of a TOPGUN instructor.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Rachel Starnes's The War at Home navigates the joys, fears, compromises, and casualties that create the terrain of marriage. And if you are a military spouse, her memoir will reveal thoughts you never even knew you had. This is a wise and fearless book.” —Siobhan Fallon, author of You Know When the Men Are Gone
“This is one of the most honest and genuine memoirs I've ever read, as well as one of the most finely written. There's not a false note in these pages. Rachel Starnes's story is at once both singular and emblematic, and as I read it I found myself wondering just how many others out there are going through experiences similar to the author's while lacking the means to express them as she does so beautifully in this riveting account. The War at Home is that rare thing: a book about the here and now that promises to last well beyond next month or next year.” —Steve Yarbrough, award-winning author of The Realm of Last Chances and Safe from the Neighbors
“Rachel Starnes has written elegantly and with deep feeling and insight about a common, but little written about and increasingly less understood, facet of American life. I found The War at Home a fascinating and compelling read.” —Karl Marlantes, New York Times bestselling author of What It's Like to Go to War and Matterhorn
“The War at Home invites us into two worlds not often glimpsed—the loaded culture of Navy wives and the painful doubts of early parenting. Haunted by her troubled past, Rachel Starnes navigates these two worlds with striking honesty, exposing her faults and forging a way toward a future worth fighting for.” —Katey Schulz, award-winning author of Flashes of War
“The War at Home, Rachel Starnes' stunning literary debut, is simultaneously harrowing and heartbreaking; an unflinching portrayal of the hidden costs of military service and the everyday challenges of building a life with her Navy pilot husband. This book is a profound narrative testament to the courage required to survive the cycles of connection and disconnection that the military life demands. Starnes takes a long look at her own childhood and personal history of relationships with men who leave, and the memoir explores her struggle to avoid a similar destiny for her two young boys. Filled with poignant lines and beautifully rendered scenes, the prose is also, at times, laugh out loud funny as Starnes stumbles through temporary jobs, friendships, and homes. Through her unfailing honesty, her humor, her courage on the page, and her willingness to write into the silent spaces, the reader finds a new wartime hero in Rachel Starnes.” —Steven Church, author of Ultrasonic: Essays and The Day After The Day After: My Atomic Angst
“The War at Home is an honest, probing self-examination of a family battling its own conflicts against the backdrop of a nation on perpetual alert.” —Alison Buckholtz, author of Standing By: The Making of an American Military Family in a Time of War
“The War at Home instantly charmed me. The messy and realistic life of Rachel Starnes pulls back the veil on one of the most selective and specialized communities of the world—the wives of Navy TOPGUN fliers. But don't fret, there are very few finger sandwiches here—Starnes shows up to Wives Club meetings with six-packs of beer and a punk-rock attitude. With Texas wit and daughter-of-an-oil-rigger grit, she delivers a powerful memoir of military family life.” —Anthony Swofford, New York Times bestselling author of Jarhead
About the Author
Rachel Starnes received her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from California State University, Fresno. Her essays have appeared in The Colorado Review and Front Porch Journal. She has lived in Scotland, Texas, Saudi Arabia, Florida, California, and Nevada, and is currently on the move again with her husband, two sons, a cat, and a puppy.
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As the wife of a veteran, and long time resident in a Navy town, I often find myself minimizing our experience as he "was just a reservist." Yet, he was deployed twice to IRQ/AFG at a time when nobody knew what to do with reservists nor dependents. I felt so alone with no way to contact him and no return date. No wives club, no neighbors who checked email with the same panicky anticipation. Kids who I loved as hard as I could and who shared my bed for years, so they knew where one parent was as the slept.
A decade later, the deployment is still part of the fabric of our lives. For me, a lot of the far-ranging emotions stem from feelings of isolation. Reading Rachel's eloquent words and deft ability to weaves multiple experiences, story lines and emotions, gave credence to the struggles we felt and reassured me I had not been completely insane during this period of life. The struggle to parent alone and then with a spouse, to take care of others and also yourself, to maintain a game face and be authentic is so complex and individual. Cheers to Rachel for the brave honesty with which she tells her story - it's one with lessons for those who don't know what it's like to be a military spouse and comfort and even laughs for those of us who do. I also deeply admire her candor about mental health, something that touches so many people but yet even in 2017, many view this as something shamefully taboo. Thank you, Rachel!
Military friends, be warned... this is not an easy or particularly happy read (though some parts are funny). Chapter 20 is especially hard if you've been through a crash.
This is not a sunshine and rainbows account of military life. The author struggles with depression and writes in a beautifully raw and real way. Yes, there are some good things about military life not covered in this book but overall I appreciate this true account of the struggles unique to military families.
This book is funny, poignant, insightful, and more than anything: brave and honest. To live through the things Starnes has is one thing, but to have the courage and talent to put it all out there in print for the world to see (in an entertaining way, no less) is nothing short of a triumph.
I consider this book a must-read for anyone who is (or is married to) someone who travels for work, anyone who ever "gave up" their personal dreams for their family, or hell, for anyone at all!
At the book signing I bought six copies to give as gifts to those friends I know that have stumbled through their own amazing journeys.
I suffered along with Rachel during this frank narrative, but I can tell you I equally laughed out loud at her wonderful tales of living across the street from the drug peddler, getting kicked out of school half a world away from the family’s then Saudi home and how those who wait at home or work away cling to the best friendships in the world.
This is a fabulous book and a joy to read Rachel’s excellent prose and I think she and Ross and the kids are going to make it. Rachel reminds us all that often the best that we can do is hold the family in one hand and the career in the other, and make it works somehow, day by day.