This one is going straight to the “Books of the Month” list. You Know When the Men Are Gone is a series of interlocking stories about the wives of soldiers from Fort Hood that are deployed to Iraq. The stories are more about families and marriages than about the war, although the war is the ugly beast that pushes people to their limits. There’s the jealous husband who spends his leave breaking into his own house to find out whether his wife is faithful to him and the wife who breaks into her husband’s email account to find alluring messages from another woman. There are the men who come back and can’t quite cope with normal lives, the ones who come back injured and get dumped, the ones who do not come back at all. One of the big themes in the book is how the wives, thrown together almost randomly while their husbands are gone, both chafe at the enforced togetherness and also create emotional bonds with each other.
Two nits. How about the husbands? There are many more men than women fighting, but must the women-fighters be portrayed only as home wreckers? And next time, how about a full-length novel rather than linked stories? I really wanted to know what happens after the end of each story!
Read this book, you will love it, sad bits and all. Another way to see the personal side of the Iraq war.