The Trench is Dug Within Our Hearts: Home Front by Kristin Hannah
There are thousands of stories about men going off to war. There are just as many about women staying at home trying to hold down the fort while the men are at war. Home Front is not one of those stories.
Jolene joined the military at 18. She had nothing. Her parents were dead, not that they’d ever really been there for her anyway. In her high school to flight school program, Jo found family and purpose for the first time in her life.
Later, Jo married a successful criminal defense attorney and had two daughters, Betsy and Lulu. She found herself with a real family and a career she loved. But nothing could have prepared her for the sacrifice of leaving her family behind to defend her country.
Jo’s anti-war husband, Michael, was never supportive of her career, but his lack of understanding only drove the couple apart. As Jo leaves for Iraq, she and her husband are barely speaking. Her pre-teen daughter is confused and angry. Her four-year-old can’t understand why her mommy won’t be around for her birthday or the first day of kindergarten.
But Jo believes in honor and duty. No matter how difficult it may be to leave, not sure if she can trust her husband to pick up the pieces while she’s gone, Jo made a promise to serve and she will not break it.
Jo tries to paint a safe and happy picture of her life at war to protect her family from the truth. The truth is that she is attacked at camp several times a day. That helicopters are being fired at more and more often. That much of her job is devoted to flying the injured and dead around. And that the people who make it home from war will never be the same.
On the home front, Michael is representing a war vet who is facing murder charges for killing his wife, and simultaneously struggling to be a father to his kids in a way he never was when he had a wife to fall back on. Serving double duty as dad and lawyer is not easy, but it is made all the more difficult not knowing if he will ever be able to repair his relationship with Jo.
As in Night Road, Hannah is an expert storyteller who beautifully depicts a family struggling to come together and heal in the darkest of times. Home Front is made up of rich, complex characters who are at times heroic, and at others downright despicable; characters who love each other to the moon and back, but push each other away when they need each other most.
Kristin Hannah’s newest novel is an absolute sobfest. It is an inspiring, heartbreaking, fast-paced, intense emotional experience. Beneath the serene, idyllic cover is a story that will shake you up and make you rethink what is worth fighting for and at what cost. While Home Front touches on the politics of the Iraq War, it is not about the war itself so much as the individual lives impacted by it–the families forced to live temporarily, or sometimes permanently, without a loved one.
Home Front feels both timely in its exploration of recent events, and timeless in its depictions of hope, forgiveness, family relationships, and the price of freedom.
Home Front is also available as an audiobook from Macmillan Audio. Click on the cover below to listen to the first chapter.
The following video features Kristin Hannah speaking with Teresa Burgess, a pilot and mother who served as an advisor for the novel.