A "best friend" to millions of women, Delilah blends 5 hours of music with listener call-ins, personal anecdotes, and interviews with top artists, touching lives and giving comfort through music. Delilah is a full-time mother sharing family stories through the airwaves. Her family is the center of her life, reflected nightly on her show. With 12 kids, she can relate to callers who juggle kids, family and work.
Kristin Hannah's written so many good books that I knew this one--her 20th book--Home Front--was going to delight me. And it did. But in ways I did not expect when I started reading the story and met Jolene, the character in this book that so many women have related to.
Jolene is a woman like so many of us, busy as a mother and a wife, with smarts and potential that might never be fully explored, if only because of the priorities in her life. Her selfless act of enrolling in our National Guard hints at that and her selflessness, and that act alone changes her life forever. And that of her family, forever.
What Jolene discovers in herself is an amazing ability to use her intellect and instincts to be a true hero in the middle of a war, and to carry the burdens of what so many of our men and women experience in wartime. My own trip to Iraq and Afghanistan to visit our troops years ago allowed me to understand for the first time how truly hard war is.
So many men and women in uniform keep the secrets and burdens of what is witnessed to themselves. It's our secrets that keep us captive. I found myself feeling Jolene's pain and stress as she returned home to family life, and thought of the number of listeners that have called me over the years hinting at the same issues of post-traumatic stress that ripple through each family.
Home Front is the kind of story that keeps you awake longer than you want to, reading in the few quiet moments of my day, negotiating with myself for just ten more pages, and then ten more.
Home Front is a story that keeps you reading longer than you tell yourself you're going to allow yourself. It's that good!
In her bestselling novels Kristin Hannah has plumbed the depths of friendship, the loyalty of sisters, and the secrets mothers keep. Now, in her most emotionally powerful story yet, she explores the intimate landscape of a troubled marriage with this provocative and timely portrait of a husband and wife, in love and at war.
All marriages have a breaking point. All families have wounds. All wars have a cost. . . .
Like many couples, Michael and Jolene Zarkades have to face the pressures of everyday life---children, careers, bills, chores---even as their twelve-year marriage is falling apart. Then an unexpected deployment sends Jolene deep into harm’s way and leaves defense attorney Michael at home, unaccustomed to being a single parent to their two girls. As a mother, it agonizes Jolene to leave her family, but as a solider she has always understood the true meaning of duty. In her letters home, she paints a rose-colored version of her life on the front lines, shielding her family from the truth. But war will change Jolene in ways that none of them could have foreseen. When tragedy strikes, Michael must face his darkest fear and fight a battle of his own---for everything that matters to his family.
At once a profoundly honest look at modern marriage and a dramatic exploration of the toll war takes on an ordinary American family, Home Front is a story of love, loss, heroism, honor, and ultimately, hope.
From a military spouse
By Andreaf on Feb 08, 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.
Not my favorite...
By Jackie Ferrante on Feb 26, 2012
I love Kristen Hannah's books and am always waiting for the next to be published. However, this one missed the mark on so many levels. I too did not like Michael, but that was how it was written to give him character - so be it. It was the children that were so unbelievable. It was totally out of touch given their ages. Who carries around a 4 year old? Betsy's character was more like she was 15 or 16, certainly not 13. Children at their ages love their mothers unconditionally and for hers to even suggest they wished she hadn't come home or not be the least concerned or sorry when they hurt her leg was unbelievable. I started laughing at instances when I was half way through this book. I could go on and on but I have made my point - not my favorite.
Stop the whining - end the book please
By Caro on Aug 29, 2012
I started this book with high expectations based on the positive reviews. I couldn't even finish (listened to audiobook version) because I became so exhausted with the never-ending unrealistic and depressing interactions between the characters. It dragged on much too long for me, the comments were predictable and I seriously got tired of the depressing atmosphere that pervaded the book. Sad relationship. Sad daughters. He doesn't love her. Of course, who didn't see the the helicopter thing coming. Feeling sorry for herself. Can't re-establish relationships. Young client who teaches her "the lesson", oh come on, seriously?? On and on...I no longer cared what happened...figured it would end with them all coming back together with the hubby learning his lesson and the mom becoming the deserving heroine. Whatever. Yes, this stuff plays out all the time in real life (I am a rehab nurse, seen lots of folks with these injuries and family dynamics). There are real life heros living this - but there was nothing real or satisfying that shone out to me in the book, it was just an endless and depressing, low-energy story.
An excellent new novel about war's affect on an American family
By David N. Parker on Nov 26, 2011
When Jolene was almost eighteen, her alcoholic parents were killed in an auto accident on their way to a local bar. Never having felt part of a family, she found one on her own with the Army's "high school to flight school" program. She became a helicopter pilot together with her best friend Tami. Twenty two years later they are both in the National Guard - and flying Blackhawk helicopters. Her husband Michael is anti-war, anti-military, and increasingly anti-marriage - at least his own. When Jolene's Guard Company is called up for deployment, Michael and their children Betsy and Lulu virtually demand that she not go. On the day of her departure, he tells her "I don't love you anymore." Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is most often thought of in terms of our soldiers returning from combat. Ms. Hannah makes PTSD real for the whole family. She discloses how the absence of a mother from her family stresses everyone. When CNN reports a helicopter with a female pilot down in Iraq, it brings home the reality that they may never see her again. Michael receives another jolt when he takes on the case of a young Marine charged with first degree murder in the accidental killing of his wife. As he prepares his defense, he must learn about PTSD in great detail. And then Jolene's helicopter is hit by an RPG and crashes. One of the most important paragraphs in the book to me is ""We come home broken, she thought. No matter how strong we are... The military should have prepared her for it. There was so much training before one goes to war, and so little for one's return." I couldn't put this book down. It is superbly researched - I'm pretty sure it is not autobiographical - and very well written. The lack of support for our returning heroes with PTSD should make us ashamed of ourselves. SUPPLEMENT 01/09/2012: I have been listening to this audio in my car on the single-disc CD player that came with it. I find that while the story is identical to the book, listening in snatches whenever I'm driving leaves me less able to appreciate the story. I also find that I draw pictures in my mind when reading the story, but less so with the audio. Fortunately, the audio system in my car will start where it left off if I turn the car off then come bakc to it. That is a definite plus. Conversely, there is no idnication when you reach the end of each of the 12 GDs, so you suddenly find yourself listening to the current disc from the beginning again. I found this annoying. The audio version would be great if I were taking long trips, which would allow listening to more of it at one time. That would provide more continuity. When not taking such trips, I prefer reading the book.
Good, not great
By Luvnyc on Feb 22, 2012
I debated giving this 4 stars, but I had to go with my gut. I love Kristin Hannah, and my favorites are Firefly Lane and Night Road. This didn't live up. I read a few reviews that mention this, so I'll reiterate, but I didn't like Jolene at all. Contrary to what someone said, she's not the perfect mother or wife. She never spoke to her husband about feelings or issues, and she smothered her children. Her past was mentioned too much as an excuse for why she wasn't open with Michael, and after being married for at least 10 years one should realize that you need to actually talk with your spouse. Her parenting skills were ridiculous. Betsy was a spoiled brat. When I was 12, I was making my own dinner and doing house chores. Betsy couldn't even get herself to school, and the outbursts when Michael wasn't home in time were incredibly immature. And the younger daughter, who was 4, acted like my 2 year old. I did like the post-accident relationship building, and I enjoyed how everything came together at the end. But overall, very disappointing from a terrific author.
ANOTHER WINNER FROM KRISTIN HANNAH
By Maudeen Wachsmith on Nov 28, 2011
Ahhhh --- the newest Kristin Hannah book. Perfect for the day it came in the mail - a windy, rainy autumn day. I snuggled in knowing full well that once I got started reading, I wouldn't budge until I finished. The only negative thing about reading a Kristin Hannah book is knowing I'll have to wait a year until the next one. I have come to expect not only a quality read, but one in which I will be emotionally involved. As a reader I don't feel like I'm merely a spectator to the drama in a Kristin Hannah book. I become part of it. HOME FRONT was all I expected--and more. After a tough childhood and the death of her parents, Jolene enrolled in the "high school to flight school" program. Now, 23 years later, she's a Blackhawk pilot with the National Guard. Married to Michael Zarkades, they are the parents of 12-year-old and four-year-old daughters, Betsy and Lulu and lead an idyllic life on the shores of Liberty Bay in Poulsbo, Washington. Michael, who recently lost his father and business partner, is a workaholic. He has been getting home later and later each night, leaving a resentful Jolene to make excuses for his multiple absences from family and children's activities. Things escalate until, in midst of a heated argument, Michael tells Jolene he no longer loves her. It's like a slap in the face. The two are unable to reconcile before Jolene and her best friend and neighbor, Tami, are deployed to Iraq. Now Michael (with help from his insightful mother, Mila) is left to assume a role he has no experience in, with daughters he barely knows. When the unthinkable happens, will Michael swallow his pride and let Jolene know how he really feels before it's too late? Hannah excels in the women's fiction subgenre of domestic drama; in fact, I don't know of anyone who does it better. Added in is the subject of PTSD and the commentary on how the VA in particular, and government in general dismisses the critical condition of the brave men and women who have served their country until many times it's too late. The lives of both Michael and Jolene finally come together when his client, an ex-marine accused of killing his wife is able to provide assistance neither one of them saw coming. Hannah is able to address the issues here without becoming political, something that could push many readers' buttons. Hannah's keen observations of the human condition and family life along with her spot-on descriptions of the landscape further makes the reader one with the story. The mist on Liberty Bay is as keenly felt as the heat and sand in Iraq. Kristin Hannah is simply one of the best, if not THE best writer of women's fiction today. Read HOME FRONT and see why she is beloved by so many readers. I can't recommend a book more highly than to say I will be buying copies for my daughter and her daughter-in-law, whose husband (my grandson) has just recently returned from Iraq.
These characters need a combat boot to the backside
By J. Lawrence on Apr 02, 2012
As an Army spouse with a husband away on his first deployment, I was so excited to see this book at my local library. At last, a novel to give civilians a window into the lives of those who serve their country and the families who wait for them at home! I expected to feel a real kinship for these people and the sacrifices they make. Instead, I met an appalling clan so selfish and whiny that they wouldn't last a week in the life of a real military family. As a National Guard helicopter pilot, Jolene is strong, capable, and dedicated. At home, though, she's a martyr. A difficult upbringing has given her a strong aversion to conflict, so she "sucks it up" to keep the peace instead of confronting the problems in her family. She constantly makes excuses for her emotionally checked-out husband Michael, who leaves all the work of running the household to her. She allows her tween daughter Betsy to belittle her work with nary a reprimand. Jolene puts forth a superhuman effort to serve both her country and her family, but she never gets (or commands) the respect she deserves. Jolene's husband Michael is the farthest thing from a supportive military spouse. He is so petty that he won't even attend a social gathering with her team, the one thing she asked for on her birthday. He callously tells her that he doesn't have anything in common with "those people"--her battle buddies, her second family, the men and women ready to literally put their lives on the line for his wife at a moment's notice! Why Jolene never kicked this guy to the curb with a swift combat boot to the backside is beyond me. Then there are the children. The younger child, Lulu, is only four, and her emotional reaction to her mother's deployment rings very true for a child that age. But the couple's older daughter Betsy is a horror. A snotty, insolent brat. Honestly, I wanted to slap Betsy for most of this novel. We're supposed to see her as just a typical teen going through a difficult phase, but instead she comes across as a mouthy little creep who's never been taught any semblance of manners or respect for one's elders. Betsy's outrageous rudeness to her mother would get most kids grounded for a week. The challenges the family faces, and the dangers Jolene must face when her unit deploys, are true to life. But the unlikeable characters ruined the story for me. I'm disappointed by this novel's failure to portray the strength, endurance, and grace under pressure so evident in most military families.
Kristin Hannah fan but this one is a miss
By Sp on Jan 02, 2013
I've read most of Kristin Hannah's books and was a big fan of her past work. All this changed though with Home Front. I went through the audio version of this book absolutely loathing the characters. I can't remember any other time when I wanted to physically lunge through the CD player of my car and physically slap a fictional character. I absolutely loathed the teen daughter, Betsy, and the other daughter wasn't portrayed much better. While I was sympathetic to the main character's plight I just wanted to book to be over with as the predictability and poor me attitudes just dragged on and on. Honestly, I partly blame myself as I should have just stopped listening to it once I started becoming more annoyed vs. intrigued by the storyline and how unlikeable the main characters were.
Most unlikeable characters I've ever met!
By Mrshvd3 on May 14, 2012
I've read most of Kristin Hannah's books and enjoyed them very much...until this one. I plowed through as much as I could before giving it up; my jaw was aching from clenching my teeth! This was the most self-centered, unlikeable bunch of people imaginable! The self-absorbed lawyer husband who expects his career to be taken seriously (and uses it as an excuse for everything he doesn't want to do), but cannot be bothered to take part or interest in his wife's career because of his politics (again, all about him). The bratty kids they cater to at every turn -- heaven forbid they didn't get their own way! The world revolves around them -- and the other side of that, and what irritated me above all, were these two parents who repeatedly and constantly apologized and gave in to these little tyrants. A sequel to this book might be in order....when Betsy and Lulu grow up, how they handle the professor who doesn't make an exception for a late term paper, the boss who won't give them the day off they wanted, and their own little monsters who terrorize them with "I'm going to throw a tantrum" at every opportunity. The mother-in-law was a darling, but (as one reviewer noted) an absolute failure at making her son act like the husband and father he should be. I know that every book can't be filled with happy storylines and wonderful, thoughtful people (and I wouldn't want them to be -- what boring reading that would make!), but this one just seems overfilled with negative characters. I love to read for pleasure.... but this was no pleasure at all.