Customer Reviews for

While He Was Away

Average Rating 3
( 15 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(7)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

good book!

While He Was Away by Karen Schreck is an emotional journey of a young girl named, Penna,and her life after she bids her boyfriend, bound for Iraq, goodbye. Penna and her mom have moved from place to place until they settled into her estranged parents house. It was love...
While He Was Away by Karen Schreck is an emotional journey of a young girl named, Penna,and her life after she bids her boyfriend, bound for Iraq, goodbye. Penna and her mom have moved from place to place until they settled into her estranged parents house. It was love at first sight for Penna and David. They fell in love over art. David is Penna's world. However before David met Penna he signed up with the National Reserves. The story begins after he comes back from basic training. Penna tries so hard to be everything that David would need. However it's after David leaves where the story really begins.
Even though Penna is in high school her feelings for David are intense.It's as if they are connected. After David leaves she falls into a sort of depression. Her mother anxious to get Penna out of the house gives her a job at their family restaurant. However the summer has more to offer Penna than just a job and missing her boyfriend. She finds an old picture of her grandmother who left Penna's mom when she was just a girl. Penna feels an instant connection to this woman she's never met.
This is a powerful story about coping with change. Penna and David are changed by their circumstances and experiences. The book is an emotional roller coaster. The author really gives you a sense of the emotions that Penna experiences throughout this novel. Schreck gives a good account at what it must be like to have a loved one in the military. She also focuses on the strength that friends and family can give. As well as the power of forgiveness and letting go. This is a highly enjoyable book that will bring tears to your eyes.

posted by Marcie77 on April 28, 2012

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review

Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Penna and David offer such an incredible and honest romance that

Penna and David offer such an incredible and honest romance that will leave readers speechless. It was so sweet seeing such young individuals grow in maturity and love. Then just when happiness presents on the horizon David as enlisted, and departs abruptly. As the stor...
Penna and David offer such an incredible and honest romance that will leave readers speechless. It was so sweet seeing such young individuals grow in maturity and love. Then just when happiness presents on the horizon David as enlisted, and departs abruptly. As the story progresses the trials and tribulations that arise seem to change and distant our characters. With each passing day readers will feel there heart breaking slowly but surely. This story took me from the peak of loves blissful peace to the plummet of heartbreaks despair. I was distraught with it’s ending; feeling as though a conclusion was truly lacking. While I still honestly express that I enjoyed this read I have troubles, because some many questions are left unanswered and unresolved. Schreck’s story will tax and strain your emotions, as well as, consume your attention way after the last page.

posted by Book_WhispererJO on May 1, 2012

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
Page 1 of 1
  • Posted May 1, 2012

    Penna and David offer such an incredible and honest romance that

    Penna and David offer such an incredible and honest romance that will leave readers speechless. It was so sweet seeing such young individuals grow in maturity and love. Then just when happiness presents on the horizon David as enlisted, and departs abruptly. As the story progresses the trials and tribulations that arise seem to change and distant our characters. With each passing day readers will feel there heart breaking slowly but surely. This story took me from the peak of loves blissful peace to the plummet of heartbreaks despair. I was distraught with it’s ending; feeling as though a conclusion was truly lacking. While I still honestly express that I enjoyed this read I have troubles, because some many questions are left unanswered and unresolved. Schreck’s story will tax and strain your emotions, as well as, consume your attention way after the last page.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 29, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I had hopes that While He Was Away would be an eye opening, emot

    I had hopes that While He Was Away would be an eye opening, emotional experience for me, but unfortunately, it was not that. I understood it was about a girl's boyfriend being drafted and going off to Iraq, and the struggles she will be facing once he was gone. However, throughout the whole book I did not feel any emotional connection towards Penna. I felt like there were too many things going on in the book. Unnecessary things that do not have any relation to the main plot of the book but were added to just increase the page count. Penna needing so much to look for her long lost grandmother all of a sudden raised a lot of question marks for me. Her weird relationship with her mother and blaming her for everything just ticked me off. I felt like she was the most ungrateful child ever! Even though her mother sacrificed SO MUCH for her, she still treated her like dirt and that totally rubbed me the wrong way.
    Then we've got her relationship with David's fallen out best friend Ravi. After David left to Iraq, Penna had only a handful of encounters with him but somehow the idea of more kept on wedging in to the plot. I was just so confused on WHY would Penna even need to assure herself multiple times that he is just David's friend. Even though all they ever did was exchange a few awkward conversations. Yes, the plot could have gone in that direction, but with barely anything happening and for her to feel that way was just absurd.
    To be honest, what really made me so disconnected with all the characters was a scene that happened with David and Penna. They went on a website to play this game where the target was an arabic guy, and the point of the game was to shoot red paintballs so they will splatter all over him (as if he is bleeding). While Penna was hesitant, David told her "Think of 9/11, he totally deserves this". Now THAT was so unbelievably offensive towards me and such an unbelievable generalization that I was stunned for a minute or two. I am muslim and arabic and like the rest of the world, I was horrified by what happened on 9/11. I really hate how as soon as people hear arabs and muslims nowadays they associate it with the act of terrorism. Which is why it hurt a little to read about that incident and I just lost all connection with these characters, which was why I just couldn't get into the story. I do know the author wanted to portray the reality of how many people think, I respect her for that, but I lost all connection or care for these characters after that.
    All in All, While He Was Away held promise, however the main plot was not strong enough and the addition of many secondary plots somehow ruined the overall experience of the book. I hoped for more emotional, soul searching type of book, but that was not what I got. However, as always, if the book seems interesting, pick it up! you might enjoy it way more than I did.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    good book!

    While He Was Away by Karen Schreck is an emotional journey of a young girl named, Penna,and her life after she bids her boyfriend, bound for Iraq, goodbye. Penna and her mom have moved from place to place until they settled into her estranged parents house. It was love at first sight for Penna and David. They fell in love over art. David is Penna's world. However before David met Penna he signed up with the National Reserves. The story begins after he comes back from basic training. Penna tries so hard to be everything that David would need. However it's after David leaves where the story really begins.
    Even though Penna is in high school her feelings for David are intense.It's as if they are connected. After David leaves she falls into a sort of depression. Her mother anxious to get Penna out of the house gives her a job at their family restaurant. However the summer has more to offer Penna than just a job and missing her boyfriend. She finds an old picture of her grandmother who left Penna's mom when she was just a girl. Penna feels an instant connection to this woman she's never met.
    This is a powerful story about coping with change. Penna and David are changed by their circumstances and experiences. The book is an emotional roller coaster. The author really gives you a sense of the emotions that Penna experiences throughout this novel. Schreck gives a good account at what it must be like to have a loved one in the military. She also focuses on the strength that friends and family can give. As well as the power of forgiveness and letting go. This is a highly enjoyable book that will bring tears to your eyes.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 1, 2012

    While He Was Away had such a description that instantly stood ou

    While He Was Away had such a description that instantly stood out to me, and I knew it was one I would want to read once it came out. But I was utterly taken back when I was reading it, because it was so much more moving and striking than I ever thought it would be.

    Reasons to Read:

    1.A sympathetic story:

    I've never been in either David or Penna's position, so I can't speak for a minute to what they went through as he left for Iraq. I have no idea what that would be like for a couple, but I have to tell you how much my heart bled for the two of them; it was absolute agony as Karen expertly wove her story of David and Penna and their transition to this change. But it was worth it. As Penna questioned the war her boyfriend was fighting in, the nature of love and so much more, I found myself asking the same things along with her.

    2.A coming of age story:

    I really liked that David and Penna were just a bit older than most other YA characters (the story takes place the summer before Penna's senior year begins and just after David has graduated) so they're adults technically, but still very young ones. Penna's struggles with her mother and trying to be supportive for David are perfect indicators of the stage she's at in her own life. I think there's something very endearing about that.

    3.A REAL romance story:

    David and Penna don't live in a fairytale, they live in the real world with very real problems. Their story is one that many couples go through, but isn't as shared as often as it should be. And it's truly heartbreaking to watch it all unfold as you read their story in While He Was Away. All you want is for them to be together, and the aching they feel for each other is so fierce it just radiates off the pages. Yet they are so sweet and caring towards each other, it made my heart melt a little bit for them. THIS is a book couple to root for, and they need that support.

    My one, tiny, minuscule complaint was that there were times when the plot itself moved along rather slowly. Not too much would be happening, because most of the story revolves around Penna's internal dialogue and personal transformation. Because of that, the story didn't feel as fully fleshed out and revealed as it could have been, which is why I'm hoping to read more about David and Penna to see where they end up (especially with that ending). Just throwing it out there, but I think it would be great to hear some more of their story from David's perspective because I imagine it would be drastically different from Penna's point of view!

    It's also kind of neat to see the other stories going on as Penna explores life without David, and the other people around her. There's a lot to be told with those stories as well, although I wish a bit more background had been given.

    This is truly an impeccable story of growing up, and the changes which occur within individuals and in their relationships with those around them. It keeps tugging at your heart, and it just doesn't let go.

    E-galley received from publisher for blog tour via Net Galley.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2013

    Anonymous

    I feel like it just cut off the end of the book. What happened later??? It felt like it was dragged out and then no more from David.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2012

    Confusing ending. i am left with many unanswered questions

    Confusing ending. i am left with many unanswered questions

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 17, 2012

    Realistic Romance

    There are few things more difficult than watching someone you care about go off to war. If that person is your first love, it's even worse. While He Was Away tells the story of Penna, a girl who is trying to find herself while her boyfriend is fighting half a world away. Along this road to self-discovery she finds the true meaning of friends, family and loving yourself. I won While He Was Away in a giveaway a couple of months ago and couldn't wait to read it. I'm so happy I did. I don't read a ton of contemporaries because they can tend to be a bit depressing and schmultzy but While He Was Away just seemed real. It had all of the drama and uncertainty of a high school relationship mixed with the very adult world of the soldier and the girl he leaves behind. This is a very special book and I really enjoyed it.

    LIKES:
    Non-Political: One of the most controversial and polarizing issues of our time is the Iraq War. Everyone has their own opinions and many people are more than happy to share those opinions with others regardless of whether or not they are welcome. This can cause things to go downhill quickly with both conversations and books. There are certain times when a reader wants to explore a hot-button issue and times when they just want to read a love story. I was really happy that Schreck kept the politics at a minimum in this book. I was worried that it would be "message-y" and frankly I was just in the mood for a good read. Now, I don't have any problem with politics. In fact, I majored in Political Science in college. But, from time to time, I just don't want someone else's opinions lobbed in my general direction. Schreck was able to keep all of the intensity of the war in the story without assaulting the reader with propaganda from one side or the other.
    Family and Forgiveness: Everyone has dysfunction in their family. It's just a fact of life. Some of us have crazier families than others but we all have problems. Penna is no exception. She lives with her single mom who was abandoned by her own mother and left in the care of an alcoholic father. Penna has never met her dad. Lot's of authors would take this situation and weave a web of drama and anger around it, but Schreck creates an atmosphere of love, loyalty and forgiveness. Penna struggles with their situation while trying to reassemble the pieces of her broken family. It really makes the story all the more emotional and touching.
    Realistic Love: While He Was Away is not a tale of idealistic love. The relationship between David and Penna is very realistic. In the beginning of the book Penna is going through the difficult process of saying goodbye. She is deeply in love with David and has already dealt with him being gone for his training and now she has to say goodbye again, this time he will be going to a war zone.
    "'Wait!' I shout. 'I'll see you again before you go, right? I'll see you tomorrow?'
    But David is already driving away, lost in the dark. And tomorrow is today."
    As the story goes on and David and Penna spend more time apart, they struggle to keep their relationship intact, but despite this, they still love each other. Penna has to deal with David's absence, her fear for his safety and his choice of the Army over her. It is a much more realistic portrait of young love during war time than some other books and movies do.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2012

    book for someone who has someone in the military

    Had to put it down a few time when it got to much

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 16, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    When I started reading this book I knew exactly where it was goi

    When I started reading this book I knew exactly where it was going. This book took me buy surprise with the changes of the characters. It certainly was not what I expected it to be but instead made me long for more.


    What I loved most about this book are the characters. The reader meets to characters that are in love with major life changes coming along. When I read books like this, I always read from the guys point of view. Never have I read a book where we see what it is like for the girl who is left behind. I like that. I like seeing her everyday life and the hardship it is of being a military girlfriend. She did what she could to help him. The stress of her waiting for bad news at any moment really takes a toll of her too.


    What caught me off guard most is the relationship change of the book. I was expecting something but I wasn't expecting THAT! When it all happen, I felt like I was the one being let go. The author took a great amount of time for the reader to be invested that my heart broke with the news. I felt like I lost something. If any author can make me feel like that, then the book stole my heart.


    My only gripe about the story is, I feel like their story is not done. There are still a lot of questions I would like answered and would loved to see where the characters went.


    While He Was Away is a amazing story of love and lost. One with plot twist that will tear at your heart. Told with a passion that capture readers, While He Was Away is amazing!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 11, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Penna's boyfriend David goes off to Iraq, he feels that it is so

    Penna's boyfriend David goes off to Iraq, he feels that it is something he has to do and that it will help him. Penna struggles to maintain her relationship with David while also uncovering the secrets of her family.

    Our protagonist Penna is a character that I have mixed feelings about. Her emotions were very mixed up and all over the place throughout the book and I could understand why she was feeling that way but it did get on my nerves sometimes. I completely understood her feelings about David, the love she had for him and the worry that something bad would happen to him, as well as the joy she felt every time she got to talk to him or got an email from him. What made me have mixed feelings about Penna though was the way she treated her mother. I can understand that she was having a hard time with her mother but the things she said to her and the way she treated her sometimes was really rude and unnecessary. Overall you see a big change in Penna throughout the book, she changes a lot and it's great to watch. She started off so dependent on David and without him around she really had to grow and become her own person. By the end of the book I was really proud of Penna and the person she became.

    Penna's boyfriend David is a character that I honestly didn't care much for. Maybe it's because we don't see him much throughout the book and we don't get any flashbacks so we don't really get to see what his relationship with Penna was like before he left for Iraq. From what I saw in the book though, I did not like David. You could tell he was being affected by the horrific things he was seeing around him but he never really opened up to Penna. Even in the few chapters at the beginning of the book, before he leaves for Iraq, he seemed really closed off from Penna. He seems like the type of guy that bottles everything up and basically I just didn't find his love for Penna very believable.

    I thought the plot of this book was very well done and realistic. While I don't personally have any experience with anyone around me being in the army I think a lot of people who do will connect with this book really well. My favorite part of this book though would have to be Penna unraveling the mysteries of her family. Penna's family has a very tangled history and I just found Penna uncovering all her family's secrets to be really intriguing. While I wouldn't call the ending of this book happy exactly, I still thought it ended on a hopeful note, which I really liked. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I think a lot of you contemporary fans out there will really enjoy it as well.

    *An extended version of this review is also posted on my blog and my other social media profiles.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 10, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Something was missing in While He Was Away

    The “in” thing right now in young adult or at least for the year 2012 it seems like, are military themed books. I’m totally all right with this! I’m going to read them all! But, there was something missing from While He Way Away…maybe the title should have clued me in to what would be missing in this book…the guy! We do get to meet him for the first couple of chapters, but after that it’s only emails, phone calls, and a Skype session. We get to see Penna’s struggle with her boyfriend going off to war and her struggles and dealings with it. If you’re looking for a book that goes into that and not about romance as much, you will probably like While He Was Away.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
Page 1 of 1