Saturday, March 12, 2011

You Know when the Men are Gone – Siobhan Fallon

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by Librarything as part of their Early Reviewers Programme. The views expressed here are honest and are in no way influenced by the author or the publisher.

Synopsis via

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.

There is an army of women waiting for their men to return in Fort Hood, Texas. Through a series of loosely interconnected stories, Siobhan Fallon takes readers onto the base, inside the homes, into the marriages and families-intimate places not seen in newspaper articles or politicians' speeches.

When you leave Fort Hood, the sign above the gate warns, You've Survived the War, Now Survive the Homecoming. It is eerily prescient.

My Review

“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.” Pg 1

You know when the men are gone is a powerful novel about the life of army wives in Fort Hood. Fallon, bringing her firsthand experience to the forefront,  gives a vivid and at times heart wrenching depiction of life on the army base.  Strict, severe, regimented, strong sense of community, secrecy, dominant, constant waiting (for good or bad news) are just some of the words that pops into the readers mind as they follow the story.

The book consists of eight interconnected, short stories each carrying their own themes and coming from different perspectives. Admittedly, this factor made the book really interesting as the author was able to show the concerns that these army wives had whether their loved ones were deployed or were stateside while capturing the hardships of the spouses who were deployed and living thousands of miles away from their families in hostile territory.

“That was how the army worked its systems of checks and balances; there was an ever-present chain of command, a shadowy specter that haunted the soldier as well as his or her civilian spouse, ready to swoop down with a raised voice and pointed finger at the least infraction” pg 74

The format of the book makes it a quick and easy read and Fallon does a wonderful job exposing the reader to life on the army base. The reading experience was memorable and I look forward to reading more from the author.

1 comment:

Julie @ Knitting and Sundries said...

All of the reviews I've read have been really good on this book. I think it would be an excellent read, especially for military families.

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