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.


6 Responses to "The Trench is Dug Within Our Hearts: Home Front by Kristin Hannah"

  • I read my first Hannah novel this fall (Winter Garden) and loved it. I’m glad to hear this one is excellent too. I’ll be on the lookout for it at the library!

    1 nomadreader said this (January 26, 2012 at 5:22 PM)

    • I have Winter Garden on my shelf, but haven’t read it yet. Have heard only good things, though!

      2 Melanie said this (January 26, 2012 at 5:24 PM)

  • My IRL bff LOVES Kristin Hannah. I will have to ask her if she knows that this comes out soon!!

    3 Jamie said this (January 26, 2012 at 8:49 PM)

    • Yay for IRL bffs who read!!

      4 Melanie said this (January 26, 2012 at 8:52 PM)

  • Wow, this is such an in-depth review. I really don’t read stories about war, but I really enjoyed reading your thoughts about this book.

    5 Midnyte Reader said this (January 27, 2012 at 8:16 PM)

  • 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.

    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.

    Have a nice day,

    6 Laura said this (February 17, 2012 at 6:08 AM)