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Home Front

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Overview

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, ...

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Home Front: A Novel

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Overview

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 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 solider she has always understood the true meaning of duty. In her letters home, she paints a rose-colored 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 foreseen. 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, honor, and ultimately, hope. 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Jolene Zarkades has dedicated her life to two things: her family and her career as a helicopter pilot in the National Guard. Her 12-year marriage to Michael, however, is crumbling. A defense attorney, Michael has thrown himself into his work to cope with the death of his father and his feelings of distance from Jolene. After he misses their daughter's track meet, Michael and Jolene get into a fight that results in him declaring that he doesn't love her anymore. The next day, Jolene finds out that her unit is being deployed to Iraq; Michael is furious that she is leaving him to juggle single parenthood and his practice, and they part on bad terms. Her letters home to their daughters exclude the harsh truths of war, but while she's away, Michael starts to come to terms with how much he has taken for granted. Jolene's tour of duty is cut short when her helicopter goes down, killing a young man, severely injuring Jolene, and leaving her best friend Tami in a coma. When Jolene returns home, she must cope with her own anger, guilt, fear, and frustration. Michael begins to understand her situation as he defends a Marine whose PTSD made him kill his wife. Slowly, Jolene heals, beginning the process of coming to terms with her life. By reversing traditional expectations, Hannah (Night Road) calls attention to the modern female soldier and offers a compassionate, poignant look at the impact of war on family. 400,000 first printing. Agent: Andrea Cirillo, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
“Hannah masterfully details the unraveling of a family.” —Associated Press on Night Road

“Kristin Hannah is back in top form with…Night Road. The novel grips the reader from the

first appearance of despondent 14-year-old Lexi Baill…[and] will hook Hannah fans from start

to suspenseful finish.” —Washington Post

“Night Road is a do-not-miss for fans of Jodi Picoult and will stay with you long after you’ve

turned the last page.” —Justine Magazine

 

“[A] rich, multilayered reading experience, and…an easy recommendation for book clubs.”

—Library Journal, *starred review on Night Road

 

“Hannah’s latest is a moving and realistic portrait of a complex and enduring friendship.”

—Booklist on Firefly Lane

 

“[Hannah] really knows what women-her characters and her audience-want.”

—Publishers Weekly on True Colors

“This terrific buddy saga about two best girlfriends who survive all sorts of escapades and

catastrophes will inevitably provoke comparisons with Iris Dart’s ‘Beaches,’ but the story is

all Hannah’s own.”

—The Seattle Times on Firefly Lane

“You cannot read Night Road and not be affected by the story and the characters. The total impact of the book will stay with you for days to come after it is finished.”

—Newark Star-Ledger

Library Journal
Hannah's (Night Road; Winter Garden) latest is an emotional, honest, and timely read that depicts the life of a military family from a female perspective. Jolene is a mother who protects her two children, Betsy and Lulu, with ubiquitous positivity, but she can't preserve her marriage with Michael and their growing distance and fading love. Michael has never embraced Jolene's job as a helicopter pilot in the Army National Guard, and their relationship grows more strained when Jolene and her best friend are deployed to Iraq. Over the course of her tour, Jolene is understandably changed—she's broken both physically and mentally when she returns home. And Michael, too, has changed. Can they try to love again with this new life before them? VERDICT Hannah has written a remarkable tale of duty, love, strength, and hope that is at times poignant and always thoroughly captivating and relevant. Buy multiples for her many fans. [See Prepub Alert, 8/1/11.]—Anne M. Miskewitch, Chicago P.L.
Kirkus Reviews
The traumatic homecoming of a wounded warrior. The daughter of alcoholics who left her orphaned at 17, Jolene "Jo" Zarkades found her first stable family in the military: She's served over two decades, first in the army, later with the National Guard. A helicopter pilot stationed near Seattle, Jo copes as competently at home, raising two daughters, Betsy and Lulu, while trying to dismiss her husband Michael's increasing emotional distance. Jo's mettle is sorely tested when Michael informs her flatly that he no longer loves her. Four-year-old Lulu clamors for attention while preteen Betsy, mean-girl-in-training, dismisses as dweeby her former best friend, Seth, son of Jo's confidante and fellow pilot, Tami. Amid these challenges comes the ultimate one: Jo and Tami are deployed to Iraq. Michael, with the help of his mother, has to take over the household duties, and he rapidly learns that parenting is much harder than his wife made it look. As Michael prepares to defend a PTSD-afflicted veteran charged with Murder I for killing his wife during a dissociative blackout, he begins to understand what Jolene is facing and to revisit his true feelings for her. When her helicopter is shot down under insurgent fire, Jo rescues Tami from the wreck, but a young crewman is killed. Tami remains in a coma and Jo, whose leg has been amputated, returns home to a difficult rehabilitation on several fronts. Her nightmares in which she relives the crash and other horrors she witnessed, and her pain, have turned Jo into a person her daughters now fear (which in the case of bratty Betsy may not be such a bad thing). Jo can't forgive Michael for his rash words. Worse, she is beginning to remind Michael more and more of his homicide client. Characterization can be cursory: Michael's earlier callousness, left largely unexplained, undercuts the pathos of his later change of heart. Less bleak than the subject matter might warrant—Hannah's default outlook is sunny—but still, a wrenching depiction of war's aftermath.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250023278
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 1/8/2013
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 102,645
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Kristin Hannah

KRISTIN HANNAH is The New York Times bestselling author of twenty novels. A former lawyer turned writer, she is the mother of one son and lives with her husband in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii.

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Read an Excerpt

One

 

April 2005

 

 

On her forty-first birthday, as on every other day, Jolene Zarkades woke before the dawn. Careful not to disturb her sleeping husband, she climbed out of bed, dressed in her running clothes, pulled her long blond hair into a ponytail, and went outside.

It was a beautiful, blue-skied spring day. The plum trees that lined her driveway were in full bloom. Tiny pink blossoms floated across the green, green field. Across the street, the Sound was a deep and vibrant blue. The soaring, snow-covered Olympic mountains rose majestically into the sky.

Perfect visibility.

She ran along the beach road for exactly three and a half miles and then turned for home. By the time she returned to her driveway, she was red-faced and breathing hard. On her porch, she picked her way past the mismatched wood and wicker furniture and went into the house, where the rich, tantalizing scent of French roast coffee mingled with the acrid tinge of wood smoke.

The first thing she did was to turn on the TV in the kitchen; it was already set on CNN. As she poured her coffee, she waited impatiently for news on the Iraq war.

No heavy fighting was being reported this morning. No soldiers—or friends—had been killed in the night.

“Thank God,” she said. Taking her coffee, she went upstairs, walking past her daughters’ bedrooms and toward her own. It was still early. Maybe she would wake Michael with a long, slow kiss. An invitation.

How long had it been since they made love in the morning? How long since they’d made love at all? She couldn’t remember. Her birthday seemed a perfect day to change all that. She opened the door. “Michael?”

Their king-sized bed was empty. Unmade. Michael’s black tee shirt—the one he slept in—lay in a rumpled heap on the floor. She picked it up and folded it in precise thirds and put it away. “Michael?” she said again, opening the bathroom door. Steam billowed out, clouded her view.

Everything was white—tile, toilet, countertops. The glass shower door was open, revealing the empty tile interior. A damp towel had been thrown carelessly across the tub to dry. Moisture beaded the mirror above the sink.

He must be downstairs already, probably in his office. Or maybe he was planning a little birthday surprise. That was the kind of thing he used to do …

After a quick shower, she brushed out her long wet hair, then twisted it into a knot at the base of her neck as she stared into the mirror. Her face—like everything about her—was strong and angular: she had high cheekbones and heavy brown brows that accentuated wide-set green eyes and a mouth that was just the slightest bit too big. Most women her age wore makeup and colored their hair, but Jolene didn’t have time for any of that. She was fine with the ash-gold blond hair that darkened a shade or two every year and the small collection of lines that had begun to pleat the corners of her eyes.

She put on her flight suit and went to wake up the girls, but their rooms were empty, too.

They were already in the kitchen. Her twelve-year-old daughter, Betsy, was helping her four-year-old sister, Lulu, up to the table. Jolene kissed Lulu’s plump pink cheek.

“Happy birthday, Mom,” they said together.

Jolene felt a sudden, burning love for these girls and her life. She knew how rare such moments were. How could she not, raised the way she’d been? She turned to her daughters, smiling—beaming, really. “Thanks, girls. It’s a beautiful day to turn forty-one.”

“That’s so old,” Lulu said. “Are you sure you’re that old?”

Laughing, Jolene opened the fridge. “Where’s your dad?”

“He left already,” Betsy said.

Jolene turned. “Really?”

“Really,” Betsy said, watching her closely.

Jolene forced a smile. “He’s probably planning a surprise for me after work. Well. I say we have a party after school. Just the three of us. With cake. What do you say?”

“With cake!” Lulu yelled, clapping her plump hands together.

Jolene could let herself be upset about Michael’s forgetfulness, but what would be the point? Happiness was a choice she knew how to make. She chose not to think about the things that bothered her; that way, they disappeared. Besides, Michael’s dedication to work was one of the things she admired most about him.

“Mommy, Mommy, play patty-cake!” Lulu cried, bouncing in her seat.

Jolene looked down at her youngest. “Someone loves the word cake.”

Lulu raised her hand. “I do. Me!”

Jolene sat down next to Lulu and held out her hands. Her daughter immediately smacked her palms against Jolene’s. “Patty-cake, patty-cake, baker’s man, make me a…” Jolene paused, watching Lulu’s face light up with expectation.

“Pool!” Lulu said.

“Make me a pool as fast you can. Dig it and scrape it and fill it with blue, and I’ll go swimming with my Lu-lu.” Jolene gave her daughter one last pat of the hands and then got up to make breakfast. “Go get dressed, Betsy. We leave in thirty minutes.”

Precisely on time, Jolene ushered the girls into the car. She drove Lulu to preschool, dropped her off with a fierce kiss, and then drove to the middle school, which sat on the knoll of a huge, grassy hillside. Pulling into the carpool lane, she slowed and came to a stop.

“Do not get out of the car,” Betsy said sharply from the shadows of the backseat. “You’re wearing your uniform.

“I guess I don’t get a pass on my birthday.” Jolene glanced at her daughter in the rearview mirror. In the past few months, her lovable, sweet-tempered tomboy had morphed into this hormonal preteen for whom everything was a potential embarrassment—especially a mom who was not sufficiently like the other moms. “Wednesday is career day,” she reminded her.

Betsy groaned. “Do you have to come?”

“Your teacher invited me. I promise not to drool or spit.”

“That is so not funny. No one cool has a mom in the military. You won’t wear your flight suit, will you?”

“It’s what I do, Betsy. I think you’d—”

“Whatever.” Betsy grabbed up her heavy backpack—not the right one, apparently; yesterday she’d demanded a new one—and climbed out of the car and rushed headlong toward the two girls standing beneath the flagpole. They were what mattered to Betsy these days, those girls, Sierra and Zoe. Betsy cared desperately about fitting in with them. Apparently, a mother who flew helicopters for the Army National Guard was très embarrassing.

As Betsy approached her old friends, they pointedly ignored her, turning their backs on her in unison, like a school of fish darting away from danger.

Jolene tightened her grip on the steering wheel, cursing under her breath.

Betsy looked crestfallen, embarrassed. Her shoulders fell, her chin dropped. She backed away quickly, as if to pretend she’d never really run up to her once-best friends in the first place. Alone, she walked into the school building.

Jolene sat there so long someone honked at her. She felt her daughter’s pain keenly. If there was one thing Jolene understood, it was rejection. Hadn’t she waited forever for her own parents to love her? She had to teach Betsy to be strong, to choose happiness. No one could hurt you if you didn’t let them. A good offense was the best defense.

Finally, she drove away. Bypassing the town’s morning traffic, she took the back roads down to Liberty Bay. At the driveway next to her own, she turned in, drove up to the neighboring house—a small white manufactured home tucked next to a car-repair shop—and honked the horn.

Her best friend, Tami Flynn, came out of house, already dressed in her flight suit, with her long black hair coiled into a severe twist. Jolene would swear that not a single wrinkle creased the coffee-colored planes of Tami’s broad face. Tami swore it was because of her Native American heritage.

Tami was the sister Jolene had never had. They’d been teenagers when they met—a pair of eighteen-year-old girls who had joined the army because they didn’t know what else to do with their lives. Both had qualified for the high school to flight school helicopter-pilot training program.

A passion for flying had brought them together; a shared outlook on life had created a friendship so strong it never wavered. They’d spent ten years in the army together and then moved over to the Guard when marriage—and motherhood—made active duty difficult. Four years after Jolene and Michael moved into the house on Liberty Bay, Tami and Carl had bought the land next door.

Tami and Jolene had even gotten pregnant at the same time, sharing that magical nine months, holding each other’s fears in tender hands. Their husbands had nothing in common, so they hadn’t become one of those best friends who traveled together with their families, but that was okay with Jolene. What mattered most was that she and Tami were always there for each other. And they were.

I’ve got your six literally meant that a helicopter was behind you, flying in the six o’clock position. What it really meant was I’m here for you. I’ve got your back. That was what Jolene had found in the army, and in the Guard, and in Tami. I’ve got your six.

The Guard had given them the best of both worlds—they got to be full-time moms who still served their country and stayed in the military and flew helicopters. They flew together at least two mornings a week, as well as during their drill weekends. It was the best part-time job on the planet.

Tami climbed into the passenger seat and slammed the door shut. “Happy birthday, flygirl.”

“Thanks.” Jolene grinned. “My day, my music.” She cranked up the volume on the CD player and Prince’s “Purple Rain” blared through the speakers.

They talked all the way to Tacoma, about everything and nothing; when they weren’t talking, they were singing the songs of their youth—Prince, Madonna, Michael Jackson. They passed Camp Murray, home to the Guard, and drove onto Fort Lewis, where the Guard’s aircraft were housed.

In the locker room, Jolene retrieved the heavy flight bag full of survival equipment. Slinging it over her shoulder, she followed Tami to the desk, confirmed her additional flight-training period, or AFTP; signed up to be paid; and then headed out to the tarmac, putting on her helmet as she walked.

The crew was already there, readying the Black Hawk for flight. The helicopter looked like a huge bird of prey against the clear blue sky. She nodded to the crew chief, did a quick preflight check of her aircraft, conducted a crew briefing, and then climbed into the left side of the cockpit and took her seat. Tami climbed into the right seat and put on her helmet.

“Overhead switches and circuit breakers, check,” Jolene said, powering up the helicopter. The engines roared to life; the huge rotor blades began to move, slowly at first and then rotating fast, with a high-pitched whine.

“Guard ops. Raptor eight-nine, log us off,” Jolene said into her mic. Then she switched frequencies. “Tower. Raptor eight-nine, ready for departure.”

She began the exquisite balancing act it took to get a helicopter airborne. The aircraft climbed slowly into the air. She worked the controls expertly—her hands and feet in constant motion. They rose into the blue and cloudless sky, where heaven was all around her. Far below, the flowering trees were a spectacular palette of color. A rush of pure adrenaline coursed through her. God, she loved it up here.

“I hear it’s your birthday, Chief,” said the crew chief, through the comm.

“Damn right it is,” Tami said, grinning. “Why do you think she has the controls?”

Jolene grinned at her best friend, loving this feeling, needing it like she needed air to breathe. She didn’t care about getting older or getting wrinkles or slowing down. “Forty-one. I can’t think of a better way to spend it.”

*   *   *

The small town of Poulsbo, Washington, sat like a pretty little girl along the shores of Liberty Bay. The original settlers had chosen this area because it reminded them of their Nordic homeland, with its cool blue waters, soaring mountains, and lush green hillsides. Years later, those same founding fathers had begun to build their shops along Front Street, embellishing them with Scandinavian touches. There were cutwork rooflines and scrolled decorations everywhere.

According to Zarkades family legend, the decorations had spoken to Michael’s mother instantly, who swore that once she walked down Front Street, she knew where she wanted to live. Dozens of quaint stores—including the one his mother owned—sold beautiful, handcrafted knickknacks to tourists.

It was less than ten miles from downtown Seattle, as a crow flew, although those few miles created a pain-in-the-ass commute. Sometime in the past few years, Michael had stopped seeing the Norwegian cuteness of the town and began to notice instead the long and winding drive from his house to the ferry terminal on Bainbridge Island and the stop-and-go midweek traffic.

There were two routes from Poulsbo to Seattle—over land and over water. The drive took two hours. The ferry ride was a thirty-five-minute crossing from the shores of Bainbridge Island to the terminal on Seattle’s wharf.

The problem with the ferry was the wait time. To drive your car onboard, you had to be in line early. In the summer, he often rode his bike to work; on rainy days like today—which were so plentiful in the Northwest—he drove. And this had been an especially long winter and a wet spring. Day after gray day, he sat in his Lexus in the parking lot, watching daylight crawl along the wavy surface of the Sound. Then he drove aboard, parked in the bowels of the boat, and went upstairs.

Today, Michael sat on the port side of the boat at a small formica table, with his work spread out in front of him; the Woerner deposition. Post-it notes ran like yellow piano keys along the edges, each one highlighting a statement of questionable veracity made by his client.

Lies. Michael sighed at the thought of undoing the damage. His idealism, once so shiny and bright, had been dulled by years of defending the guilty.

In the past, he would have talked to his dad about it, and his father would have put it all in perspective, reminding Michael that their job made a difference.

We are the last bastion, Michael, you know that—the champions of freedom. Don’t let the bad guys break you. We protect the innocent by protecting the guilty. That’s how it works.

I could use a few more innocents, Dad.

Couldn’t we all? We’re all waiting for it … that case, the one that matters. We know, more than most, how it feels to save someone’s life. To make a difference. That’s what we do, Michael. Don’t lose the faith.

He looked at the empty seat across from him.

It had been eleven months now that he’d ridden to work alone. One day his father had been beside him, hale and hearty and talking about the law he loved, and then he’d been sick. Dying.

He and his father had been partners for almost twenty years, working side by side, and losing him had shaken Michael deeply. He grieved for the time they’d lost; most of all, he felt alone in a way that was new. The loss made him look at his own life, too, and he didn’t like what he saw.

Until his father’s death, Michael had always felt lucky, happy; now, he didn’t.

He wanted to talk to someone about all this, share his loss. But with whom? He couldn’t talk to his wife about it. Not Jolene, who believed that happiness was a choice to be made and a smile was a frown turned upside down. Her turbulent, ugly childhood had left her impatient with people who couldn’t choose to be happy. Lately, it got on his nerves, all her buoyant it-will-get-better platitudes. Because she’d lost her parents, she thought she understood grief, but she had no idea how it felt to be drowning. How could she? She was Teflon strong.

He tapped his pen on the table and glanced out the window. The Sound was gunmetal gray today, desolate looking, mysterious. A seagull floated past on a current of invisible air, seemingly in suspended animation.

He shouldn’t have given in to Jolene, all those years ago, when she’d begged for the house on Liberty Bay. He’d told her he didn’t want to live so far from the city—or that close to his parents, but in the end he’d given in, swayed by her pretty pleas and the solid argument that they’d need his mother’s help in babysitting. But if he hadn’t given in, if he hadn’t lost the where-we-live argument, he wouldn’t be sitting here on the ferry every day, missing the man who used to meet him here …

As the ferry slowed, Michael got up and collected his papers, putting the deposition back in the black lambskin briefcase. He hadn’t even looked at it. Merging into the crowd, he made his way down the stairs to the car deck. In minutes, he was driving off the ferry and pulling up to the Smith Tower, once the tallest building west of New York and now an aging, gothic footnote to a city on the rise.

At Zarkades, Antham, and Zarkades, on the ninth floor, everything was old—floors, windows in need of repair, too many layers of paint—but, like the building itself, there was history here, and beauty. A wall of windows overlooked Elliott Bay and the great orange cranes that loaded containers onto tankers. Some of the biggest and most important criminal trials in the past twenty years had been defended by Theo Zarkades, from these very offices. At gatherings of the bar association, other lawyers still spoke of his father’s ability to persuade a jury with something close to awe.

“Hey, Michael,” the receptionist said, smiling up at him.

He waved and kept walking, past the earnest paralegals, tired legal secretaries, and ambitious young associates. Everyone smiled at him, and he smiled back. At the corner office—previously his father’s and now his—he stopped to talk to his secretary. “Good morning, Ann.”

“Good morning, Michael. Bill Antham wanted to see you.”

“Okay. Tell him I’m in.”

“You want some coffee?”

“Yes, thanks.”

He went into his office, the largest one in the firm. A huge window looked out over Elliott Bay; that was really the star of the room, the view. Other than that, the office was ordinary—bookcases filled with law books, a wooden floor scarred by decades of wear, a pair of overstuffed chairs, a black suede sofa. A single family photo sat next to his computer, the only personal touch in the space.

He tossed his briefcase onto the desk and went to the window, staring out at the city his father had loved. In the glass, he saw a ghostly image of himself—wavy black hair, strong, squared jaw, dark eyes. The image of his father as a younger man. But had his father ever felt so tired and drained?

Behind him, there was a knock, and then the door opened. In walked Bill Antham, the only other partner in the firm, once his father’s best friend. In the months since Dad’s death, Bill had aged, too. Maybe they all had.

“Hey, Michael,” he said, limping forward, reminding Michael with each step that he was well past retirement age. In the last year, he’d gotten two new knees.

“Have a seat, Bill,” Michael said, indicating the chair closest to the desk.

“Thanks.” He sat down. “I need a favor.”

Michael returned to his desk. “Sure, Bill. What can I do for you?”

“I was in court yesterday, and I got tapped by Judge Runyon.”

Michael sighed and sat down. It was common for criminal defense attorneys to be assigned cases by the court—it was the old if you require an attorney and cannot afford one bit. Judges often assigned a case to whatever lawyer happened to be there when it came up. “What’s the case?”

“A man killed his wife. Allegedly. He barricaded himself in his house and shot her in the head. SWAT team dragged him out before he could kill himself. TV filmed a bunch of it.”

A guilty client who had been caught on TV. Perfect. “And you want me to handle the case for you.”

“I wouldn’t ask … but Nancy and I are leaving for Mexico in two weeks.”

“Of course,” Michael said. “No problem.”

Bill’s gaze moved around the room. “I still expect to find him in here,” he said softly.

“Yeah,” Michael said.

They looked at each other for a moment, both remembering the man who had made such an impact on their lives. Then Bill stood, thanked Michael again, and left.

After that, Michael dove into his work, letting it consume him. He spent hours buried in depositions and police reports and briefs. He had always had a strong work ethic and an even stronger sense of duty. In the rising tide of grief, work had become his life ring.

At three o’clock, Ann buzzed him on the intercom. “Michael? Jolene is on line one.”

“Thanks, Ann.”

“You did remember that it’s her birthday today, right?”

Shit.

He pushed back from his desk and grabbed the phone. “Hey, Jo. Happy birthday.”

“Thanks.”

She didn’t scold him for forgetting, although she knew he had. Jolene had the tightest grip on her emotions of anyone he’d ever seen, and she never ever let herself get mad. He sometimes wondered if a good fight would help their marriage, but it took two to fight. “I’ll make it up to you. How about dinner at that place above the marina? The new place?”

Before she could offer some resistance (which she always did if something wasn’t her idea), he said, “Betsy is old enough to watch Lulu for two hours. We’ll only be a mile away from home.”

It was an argument that had been going on for almost a year now. Michael thought a twelve-year-old could babysit; Jolene disagreed. As with everything in their life, Jolene’s vote was the one that counted. He was used to it … and sick of it.

“I know how busy you are with the Woerner case,” she said. “How about if I feed the girls early and settle them upstairs with a movie and then make us a nice dinner? Or I could pick up takeout from the bistro; we love their food.”

“Are you sure?”

“What matters is that we’re together,” she said easily.

“Okay,” Michael said. “I’ll be home by eight.”

Before he hung up the phone, he was thinking of something else.

 

Copyright © 2012 by Kristin Hannah

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Reading Group Guide

In the past year, I’ve been able to “talk” to book groups via speakerphone during their meetings. What a blast! For so long, I wrote books and never really met anyone who had read them. It is such a joy to talk to women from all over the country. We talk about anything and everything—my books, other books, best friends, kids, sisters. You name it, we’ll discuss it. So if you belong to a book group and you’ve chosen Home Front as your pick, please come on over to the Web site and set up a conversation with me. I can’t promise to fulfill all the requests, but I will certainly do my best. And don’t forget to join me on my blog and/or Facebook. I love talking to readers. The more the merrier!

 

Thanks!

 

Kristin Hannah

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 446 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 4, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    THIS IS DEFINITELY A 5 STAR BOOK/ A MUST READ

    I GOT THE BOOK FRIDAY AT 10:00 PM & BY 4:00 AM I WAS FINISHED. (YES I KNOW GET A LIFE LOL ) BUT IT WAS A PAGE TURNER FROM BEGINNING TO END. WAS WORTH THE MONEY BECAUSE AS LONG AS I'M ENJOYING IT I DON'T CARE WHAT IT COSTS. SO IF U WANT A KEEPER TREAT YOUR SELF. HAPPY READING

    35 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2012

    Great writer, but too sad.

    I've had many of Kristen Hannah's previous books, and I find the same thing over and over again, they're just too sad for me to get through. I read books to "escape" from the real world, but instead, I find myself crying and feeling really sad while reading Hannah. I know a good author makes you feel the emotions, and I keep reading Kristen Hannah because I do love the way she writes, but Home Front and her last release were just entirely too sad for me to read. I need feel good books, but if you don't mind sobbing through a story, then you seriously will love Kristen Hannah. I believe she's a great author, just not necessarily for me.

    26 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2012

    Best Book I Have Ever Read!!

    Saying this is the best book I have ever read, is no small statement. I read an average of 3 books a week and have for many years. However, no book has ever had me in tears from almost the beginning, all the way to the end. If you don't like emotional books, this is not for you. But if you like to read a story that seems so real, with characters so genuine, than you must read this!!!

    15 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2012

    CAPTIVATING!!

    This is one of the best books I have read!! It was like a movie unfolding through the pages of a book. I am a soldier's wife. I understand some of the things in this book, like the seperation. My husband came home. He is ok and well..... I cried through the entire book.... Maybe because I can relate to the characters. We have friends who suffer from PTSD. It is real, and some of the outcomes were not good. I highly recommend this book!!!! You won't be sorry you read it!!

    15 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 2, 2012

    Keep the tissues close by!

    This book was a wonderful read! It is so perfect for the non-military people to see what our military families sacrifice for our freedom.

    15 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2012

    AWESOME

    Hard to put down beginning to end! I laughed & cried all at the same time several times.
    DEFINATE 5 STARS!!!

    13 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2012

    Highly recommend!

    Kristan hannah writes emotional, moving and educational books. I learned alot, never fully realized the hardships and sacrifices of the military families.... great characters, pertinent complex real life situations....
    kristan hannah has not disappointed us ...another great book by our favorite author!

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2012

    Loved it

    This story I am sure hits home with many military families. I loved the trials and struggles that were unfortunately true to life! I did need a few tissues but loved every word. This story starts to show the ugly side of war, and the effect it has on the families. GOD BLESS AMERICA AND OUR TROOPS!!!!

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2012

    AWESOME READ!

    This is the BEST Kristin Hannah book I've read. Will be recommending to everyone.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2012

    Anonymous

    This book made me laugh, cry, appreciate our military in a whole new way, and cherish my family and friends. I can not explain all the different feelings I encountered reading this book. BRAVO Kristin Hannah! This is truly a great read. It would make a terrific movie.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 10, 2012

    Excellent book, good representation of the "home front" battle

    As a young army wife, I was eager to read this book having just survived a very long year with my husband being deployed to Afghanistan. This book was hard to read, but in a good way if that makes sense. Kristin Hannah's portrayal of pre-deployment, deployment, and the after math that follows upon their return is a pretty accurate depiction. This book is absolutely lovely, beginning to end. I was in tears one moment and laughing the next. I love her emphasis on the real truth of PTSD, even if it was in an extreme case, and the effects it has on our heroes coming home. Read this, if not for a feel good family story, but for some small insight into the struggles 1% of Americans face so that you could have your freedom.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 6, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Role reversal: Joleen & Tammy are deployed to Iraq. The hus

    Role reversal: Joleen & Tammy are deployed to Iraq. The husbands are taking on new roles with the domestic duties plus their careers & the wives lives are at risk every moment. This is a grueling peek into the “uglies” of war and what our troops are dealing with in their lives. This is a wonderful but bittersweet lesson in life that I am glad I read it but it’s not one I will read again. This isn’t one of my favorite Kristin Hannah stories, but exquisite in all else

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Loved it

    I've read other Kristin Hannah books and enjoyed them, but I think this is her best book by far. I learned a lot about PTSD. I did cry often while reading it, but it wasn't that it was so sad, it just made FEEL. And the funny parts about dealing with kids touched me, too. I live on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, so I could identify visually with those scenes in the book. This is the kind of book that I wanted to finish so I could see how it ended, but also didn't want it to end because I didn't want to be done with it.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2012

    Just the facts

    This is a great read. I like books that make me think and this one, as do all Kristin Hannah books, rose to the occasion. I agree with another reviewer that people tell too much of the story in reviews, so YES read it. In fact I avoid reading the book jacket because they tell so much of the story. Can't wait for the next Hannah book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2012

    Incredible

    Powerful book loved it

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 24, 2013

    Michael and Jolene's marriage is falling a part.  Neither seems

    Michael and Jolene's marriage is falling a part.  Neither seems to understand the other.  Michael is a defense attorney who works long hours, often breaking promises to be there for his family.  Jolene is in the Guard, a job that saved her life after tragedy, providing friends and family.  Her family at homes doesn't understand how important her job is to her.  On top of this Jolene has two daughters that she is often raising alone since Michael is so busy with his job.  Then Michael drops a bomb on Jolene.  He tells her he doesn't love her anymore.  The next day she is deployed to fight in a war that Michael doesn't believe in and her girls don't understand just when her marriage is falling apart.  Michael must step in and balance his job and his family.  Jolene must go to war; their lives change forever.  But war is hard.  No one imagined how hard it would be.




    It isn't possible to describe how much I loved this book.  There is no description that can possibly capture the growth and emotion present in this book.  Michael starts off selfish and Jolene seems a bit too perfect.  But as time progresses, each character must face their own demons.  It doesn't happen quickly, nor is it easy.  The description of a military family felt dead-on.  My family was a military family and it all felt so real.  There's such a tension for those in the military.  There's a pull to be there for your family and do your job for your country.  Kids don't quite understand that and Ms. Hannah captured that perfectly.  The raw emotion present can certainly bring tears.  Not only are their marital issues but there is much tragedy and sadness.  The entire family changes in the end.




    I was reading this when we first moved into the new place.  Stuff was everywhere and we had to get up early to pick up more furniture.  But I stayed up until 5 am  reading this the bathtub (water was so cold!) because I just couldn't put it down.  It's that good.




    Overall, this is such a great book.  Everyone should read it.  Even if it doesn't sound like it's your cup of tea, it is.  It really is.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2013

    Absolutely loved this novel!

    I have never read anything from Kristin Hannah before but I am now hooked. I was so compelled to keep reading until I finished this book. You gain a real perspective and respect for those military families and all their sacrifices they provide for our country. Very well written and since I have purchased four more of her novels for my "Nook" library!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2013

    Great read.

    Had trouble putting this book down. Kept me in suspense most of the time. Wasn't sure how it would end. Gave a little insight of what families go through when a loved one serves our country in the military.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2013

    Loved it!!!!

    Im the type of reader who needs a book to draw me in from page 1. This book does just that. I absolutely loved it just as all the kristin hannah books ive read. True that if you dont like emotionally moving books, this book is probably not for you but if you love abook that has adoring characters, then you are sure to love it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2013

    ANONYMOUS

    Excellent book,in fact I feel it is the best book Kristin Hannah has written yet and I have read most all of her books,and everyone was a very good read,it is well worth the money and I highly recommend it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 446 Customer Reviews

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