Sunday, December 5, 2010

You'll Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon

From Goodreads: In Fort Hood housing, like all army housing, you get used to hearing through the walls... You learn too much. And you learn to move quietly through your own small domain. You also know when the men are gone. No more boots stomping above, no more football games turned up too high, and, best of all, no more front doors slamming before dawn as they trudge out for their early formation, sneakers on metal stairs, cars starting, shouts to the windows above to throw them down their gloves on cold desert mornings. Babies still cry, telephones ring, Saturday morning cartoons screech, but without the men, there is a sense of muted silence, a sense of muted life.

Too short...I started reading and was just unable to put the book down and then dismayed when it ended. I wanted it to go on and on and, of course, part of me was rooting for the happy ending; the ending that hasn't happened yet for these characters or for our service members and their families. Because Siobhan captures the situation with such intimacy and detail, I felt like a peeping tom reading about real people despite knowing that it is a work of fiction. I read so fast the first time through that I didn't pick up on the connections between the stories right away. I had to go back a second time, with a fresh box of Kleenex, and read more slowly. I was eager to read this one because my husband was a Marine for 23 years until he retired and I continue to work for the Navy helping families of Marines and Sailors. Fort Hood is Army but these experiences are universal throughout the branches and Siobhan's voice is authentic; these wars have been hard on the families. I was delighted to read good reviews from readers outside of the military community, I would hate to see such a moving work be a niche book, it deserves a wide audience.

I read this book as part of the Goodreads First Reads program.

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