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Jolene Zarkades was orphaned at age 17 in 1982. Her parents were raging alcoholics and domestic abuse was part of her early life. She flees a dreadful childhood and loss of both of her parents by enrolling in flight school right after high school. 23 years later, Jolene is a Blackhawk pilot with the National Guard. Jolene is married to Michael Zarkades and they have two daughters, Betsy, 12 and Lulu, 4. They, like the majority of Kristin Hannah's characters live in an idyllic part of Washington State.

The Zarkades' lives are not as idyllic as their home and their exteriors would suggest. Michael is a driven, Type-A personality who spends long hours working and few hours to spare for his family. This is taking a toll on them as Michael frequently skips school activities, leaving an irate Jolene to make excuses for him. This continues until after an ugly confrontation, Michael point blank tells Jolene he stopped loving her, which catches her completely off guard. His theme song could be Teddy Pendergrass' "I Don't Love You Anymore." It was not that simple and yeah, it was a dirty shame.

Things get worse until Jolene and Tami are deployed to Iraq. Michael and his lovely mother ("Yia" to the girls) have to take charge of the household and in Michael's case find common footing with the girls. Michael is completely out of his element. It's one thing for him to blaze trails at work; it is alien (or perhaps in his mind hostile) territory on the homefront.

Meanwhile, the hositility in 2005 Iraq is intensifying. Jolene sends the girls sugar coated e-mails and downplays the danger in Iraq. In August of 2005 Jolene suffers a horrendous, traumatic loss and sadly, there are casualties. Returning home, she is a grounded raptor as opposed to the helicopter flying in command, in control pilot of the Raptor Division. Rebonding with the girls isn't easy; Jolene's personality has been adversely affected and understandably so by the traumas in Iraq. Michael is a changed man and Jolene has an added ally - the mother in law from heaven.

More allies emerge. Michael's most recent legal case involves a young man who allegedly killed his wife. The man had returned from Iraq completely changed and on constant high alert, perceiving attacks when none were evident. This case including an expert witness with the apt name of Chris Cornflower make an excellent story even better. Chris Cornflower is a simply delightful character. That legal case turns out to be the turning point in the Zarkades marriage.

I love Kristin Hannah's books and Night Road is my other favorite Kristin Hannah book. She is a gifted writer and avid fans of chick lit will no doubt love this work as well. She takes many predicable scenarios and skillfully adds major issues such as PTSD; marital difficulties and current events, such as the war and the toll the war has taken on families as well as the people who have served. Kristin Hannah is a master writer and knows how to navigate tricky highly political and extremely volatile issues without taking a stand herself. She knows how to stay on neutral territory while writing of her characters' experiences.

Readers familiar with Kristin Hannah's delightful books will recognize the common ground of Washington State, an area with which Kristin Hannah is quite familiar. The tone of tolerance and forgiveness underscore this book. If you have not read any of her works prior to coming across THIS gem, then you will be avidly reading more. While I was disappointed that this was a CD set, I just knew I had to get a good Kristin Hannah story in whatever form it came. (I even got the book).
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 19, 2012
Story Description:

St. Martin's Press|January 31, 2012|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-312-57720-9

In her bestselling novels Kristin Hannah has plumbed the depths of friendship, the loyalty of sisters, and the secrets mothers keep. Now, in her most emotionally powerful story yet, she explores the intimate landscape of a troubled marriage with this provocative and timely portrait of a husband and wife, in love and at war.

All marriages have a breaking point. All families have wounds. All wars have a cost...

Like many couples, Michael and Jolene Zarkades have to face the pressures of everyday life - children, careers, bills, chores - even as their twelve-year-old marriage is falling apart. Then an unexpected deployment sends Jolene deep into harm's way and leaves defense attorney Michael at home, unaccustomed to being a single parent to their two girls. As a mother, it agonizes Jolene to leave her family, but as a soldier she has always understood the true meaning of duty. In her letters home, she paints a rose-coloured version of her life on the front lines, shielding her family from the truth. But war will change Jolene in ways that none of them could have forseen. When tragedy strikes, Michael must face his darkest fear and fight a battle of his own - for everything that matters to his family.

At once a profoundly honest look at modern marriage and a dramatic exploration of the toll war takes on an ordinary American family. Home Front is a story of love, loss, heroism, honour, and ultimately, hope.

My Review:

Jolene Larsen lives with her parents who are constantly drunk and fighting. It's the same situation time and time again - her parents drinking, then the arguing, then her father staggering out the door, and her mother crying saying how much she loves him and what is she going to do without him. Then comes the make-up period where they hug and kiss, say they're sorry until the next time. Only this last time disaster strikes.

Fast forward twenty-three years to present day where Jolene is now forty-one-years-old and married to Michael Zarkades, a criminal defense attorney with his own firm. They have two daughters, twelve-year-old, Betsy and four-year-old, Lucy. Jolene is a Blackhawk pilot with the National Guard. The Zarkades's live in a beautiful home along the shores of Liberty Bay in Poulsbo, Washington.

Jolene's love for Michael is solid and runs deep, although they haven't been able to spend a lot of time together lately as Michael never seems to make it home on time for dinner or to Betsy's events at school but Jolene is proud of his work ethic and commitment to his job. Then one night, eleven-months after the death of his father, Michael tells Jolene that he no longer loves her. Jolene is devastated and deeply hurt.

A few days later, Jolene and best-friend, Tami who lives next-door with her husband, Carl and their son, Seth are called to deploy to Iraq. Michael isn't at all happy about having to become Mr. Mom for the next year and keep up his gruelling work schedule. Plus, he has never supported Jolene's decision to become a Blackhawk pilot and has never attended any events related to Jolene's job.

Naturally her daughters, Betsy and Lucy are devastated at the news of their mother leaving them for an entire year. Betsy especially is affected being a pre-teen and needing her mother more than ever.

The day of deployment arrives and Jolene heads off into war with the parting words: "I don't love you anymore" crushing her heart and her spirit. When a disaster strikes, can Michael swallow his pride, step up to the plate and tell Jolene how he truly feels before it is too late?

The underlying sub-plot in this story revolves around PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) that many of the soldiers return from war with. Many of these war heroes come home as complete strangers to their families and even to themselves.

Home Front is a hard book to read but reminds us how thankful we need to be to any and all soldiers/members of the military and recognize that they are putting their lives on the line for us. I don't know that those of us who are non-military families can truly appreciate what those families go through. I couldn't even begin to imagine having to wait at home every single day waiting for word from my husband, son, daughter, cousin or other family member. After reading Home Front I will be sure to say `thank you' from now on when I cross paths with a service person. Excellent read that I'll be highly recommending.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon February 25, 2012
This review is based on an Advance Readers Version of the book which I received free from the Publisher through the Goodreads First Reads program.

Jolene Larsen knew what a dysfunctional family was like. She was 17 and the battles her Mom and Dad had on a regular basis, usually after excessive drinking, were a sure sign of that disfunction. How could they, who professed their love to each other, go completely crazy to each other after drinking.

What was the true relationship? After a particularly nasty dust up they drove off together and died in an automobile accident.

Flashing forward 23 years we now find Jolene as Mrs Zarkades. With husband Michael and two daughters Jolene is in a good place in her life.

When she is called to leave on a one year mission with the Army National Guard both her and Michael question how they both can survive the time apart. Their two daughters are also crestfallen at this development.

Jolene is severely injured during her mission and the balance of the book is her, not only recovering form her injuries, but, trying to get back to that comfortable spot she was at with her family before leaving on the assignment.

Breathtaking and heartbreaking at the same time
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When patrons come into the library looking for a 'good' story, Kristin Hannah is an author that I recommend.

In her latest book, Hannah tackles a number of themes, combining them into a topical and thought provoking read.

Michael and Jolene have been married for a number of years. They have two daughters. Michael is a lawyer and Jolene is a helicopter pilot in the National Guard. There have been bumps along the way, but nothing prepares Jolene for Michael's unexpected announcement - he doesn't love her anymore and wants a divorce. Jolene has an announcement of her own - she's been deployed to Iraq...

Home Front explores a struggling marriage, the effects of war and military service on family, friends and on the military members themselves, both during and after service. Hannah has turned things around by having a mom and wife as the one leaving and the husband as the one holding up the home front.

I really did not like Michael at all in the beginning. It took the entire book for me to change my opinion. This is a testament to Hannah's story telling. All of her characters rang true and I became emotionally involved in each and every one of their stories. Jolene's oldest daughter Betsy is a typical twelve year old - very self centered and hard to love at times. Five year old Lulu's bewilderment was heartbreaking. The relationship between Jolene and her best friend Tammy is a joy. Jolene's rough childhood has made her determined to always paint a sunny picture and smile through it all. But, the war changes each and every relationship -mother, daughters, husband, wife, friend and most difficult of all - Jolene's relationship with herself.

Kristin Hannah has done a remarkable job of depicting war, the horrors, the after effects, the pride, honour and duty associated with the military. Just as engaging is the story of a husband and wife, striving to find the love they once shared.

So, those looking for a (really) 'good' story will find it in Home Front.
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on November 29, 2013
Jolene is a helicopter pilot for the Guard while her husband, Michael, is a defense attorney. They have two young daughters. We learn that Jolene had a terribly hard childhood and has basically learned to persevere on her own. She has become good at hiding her feelings and pushing them down. Her marriage to Michael is not the love story that she had thought it would be. He works a lot and doesn't even want to talk about her job as a pilot in the military. He thinks it is stupid. I cannot imagine how Jolene would have been able to stay in a marriage with a spouse who minimizes her career in such a way, especially since her job is to protect him. Another example of Jolene being able to compartmentalize her feelings.

Jolene ends up being deployed and before she goes, Michael tells her he doesn't love her anymore. He is upset that he has to work and now take on the responsibilities of the girls and home while his wife goes off to war.

I enjoyed this book in that I was able to learn a little more about PTSD and how difficult it is for military personnel to return home after their experiences. I liked Jolene's character but never did warm up to Michael. His selfishness was unbelievable to me. He must have realized when he married Jolene that her career would take her away from home from time to time and just what that all entailed.

Overall a good book. I enjoyed some of Kristin Hannah's other books more however.
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on June 22, 2013
This books follows along the life story of one family as they struggle with their relationship with each other. This is further complicated by Jolene's departure to Iraq. In this novel we get to learn how war, life, and feelings affect us. Also, we get to experience hope and loss.

This book was mostly surrounding the feelings of the two parents (but did touch on the children). I love how miscommunication is apparent to the reader, but not to the characters. We are aware that the way he thinks is not necessarily how she sees it - or vice verse - but they are not. It makes the characters real.

My issue with this novel is the little girl. I know, that sounds shallow, but her daughter is 4 years old. My son is 5 and he talks no where near this babyish. If anyone out there has a 4 year old that talks like this, let me know. Maybe my child just talks with as much attitude as he seems to have.

I do believe some characters give up too fast and others seem to develop (or grow) too quickly. Or, at least, without our being aware of it.

When I am done picking on this book, it comes down to being a moving "chick-lit" novel that is sure to show up in a book club near you - it actually probably already has and you can expect Fly Away to next.
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on March 31, 2012
This by far is her very best work to date.
had the hardest time to put it down.
From the very 1st chapter it draws you in to the end ,even then I wanted her to find a way to never stop.
Thanks amazon 4 selling the best books ever.
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on February 11, 2013
Since I am at a different stage in life than the main character in the book, I found the opening quite tedious. However, since it was my Book Club selection, I persevered and am really glad that I did!

A good friend once said that she loves books that take her into a different world, a different place, or a different time. Home Front did just that for me.

I had never really considered on a personal basis the effects of war on a family, a relationship, or on the returning vet. This book transported me in for a bird's eye view of those things giving me a new appreciation for soldiers and military families.
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on April 23, 2012
She is the best author around right now. I recommend her book Night Road. I could not put it down. Was still thinking about it for days after.
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on July 20, 2013
All I am going to say is that this is my second book by Kristin Hannah and I just loved it. This is the first book that actually made me cry out loud. This is just a lovely story. I know for a fact that I am most definitely going to read more of her books.
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