While I’m sure you’re excited to jump into a new book and a new adventure a week with me, I thought that you might like to have a brief synopsis of the book that I’ll be reading for the week. So every Monday, I’ll be providing you with an About the Book that details the synopsis of the novel, as well as some of my initial thoughts on what the read will be like. That way, when it comes time for the review, you have a little background on where I started. So let’s jump in with an About the Book for Siobhan Fallon’s You Know When the Men are Gone.
You Know When the Men are Gone
You Know When the Men are Gone is Fallon’s first published novel, and it details what life is like living in the military town of Fort Hood, Texas. As a wife of an Army major, Fallon draws upon her own life experiences to weave a tale of what it’s like when war tears apart families.
From the front flap:
There is an army of women waiting for their men to return in Fort Hood, Texas.
With dazzling skill and astonishing emotional force, Siobhan Fallon explores the insular and emotionally fraught world of an American army base in a time of war. She introduces us to a wife who discovers unsettling secrets when she hacks into her husband’s email, and a teenager who disappears with her five-year-old brother as their mother fights cancer. There is a soldier who enters into a perilous friendship with an Iraqi female translator, the foreign-born army wife who has tongues wagging over her glamorous clothes and late hours, and the military intelligence officer who plans a secret surveillance mission against his own home.
In gripping, no-nonsense stories that will leave readers shaken, Siobhan Fallon allows us into a world tightly guarded by gates and wire. It is a place where men and women cling to the families they have created as the stress of war threatens to pull them apart.
At first blush, this isn’t the type of book that I’d normally pick up. I’ve never been into military stories because of my own family’s personal relationship to the military and wartime. However, these intricate stories of individual people’s lives sound intriguing, and about more than just the day to day of military life. There’s political espionage, gripping heartfelt stories about a family torn apart by cancer, and several other characters that already have me wanting to crack open the spine of this book.
If the synopsis of the story alone doesn’t convince you that this might be a great read, a chilling excerpt of the novel from the front flap may change your mind. That’s what convinced me that this book is well-worth the read:
In Fort Hood housing, like all army housing, you get used to hearing through the walls. You learn your neighbors’ routines: when and if they gargle and brush their teeth; how often they go to the bathroom or shower; whether they snore or cry themselves to sleep. 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 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.
I’m ready to tear into this book the minute I get the chance, and I hope you’ll join me next week when I tell you exactly what I think!