Review: You Know When The Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon
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.-Summary from Goodreads
I picked up this book around one morning and had devoured it by the time the sun went down. I probably could have knocked it out in a few hours but, alas, my kids expect me to feed them. You Know When the Men Are Gone is filled with several short stories about military families in several stages of deployment and I was completely sucked in by these little cross sections of military life.
There are stories of women left behind and trying to get through each day without their husbands. Each family has their own issues but you see how the deployment affects each in different ways. You only get a small slice of each story, just enough to get the point across but still more than enough. When I finished one, I was ready to move right on to the next.
It was a quick, easy read and though these stories are fictional, I would recommend it to anyone looking for a peek into the lives of those who protect out freedom and the hardships that they face in doing so. I think it helps us to remember that it's not just the ones who come home in a box that have sacrificed for us. Each and every soldier and their families are sacrificing their wants and needs everyday. It's books like this that help us to remember that.