You Know When the Men Are Gone

You Know When the Men Are Gone

by Siobhan Fallon
3.6 105


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You Know When the Men Are Gone 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 105 reviews.
rebecca123RR More than 1 year ago
In You Know When the Men Are Gone, Siobhan Fallon writes with grace and intelligence about the army wives at Fort Hood who are waiting for their men to return from Iraq. Fallon follows the lives of women with children, women with cancer, women who can't bear another night of sleeping alone between flypaper walls. Some of Fallon's women find courage in the others left behind, some take comfort in a past without war -- in their memories, their Hawaii's, their first true loves. All have a sense that real life stops the moment the men board the busses and leave Fort Hood. You Know When the Men Are Gone is a poignant debut, written with the kind of love and detailed accuracy that can only come from living behind the barbed wire at Fort Hood, as Siobhan Fallon has. You'll laugh with her characters and you'll cry with them. Like them, you'll try to add up what it's all worth. You Know When the Men Are Gone is funny, sad, wise, and essential. Turn off the news and pick up this book. You won't be disappointed.
KCofArabia More than 1 year ago
This is an incredible work of fiction. Every story in this collection is tightly wrought, emotionally compelling, and beautifully written. I was sucked in early by "You Know When the Men are Gone," and was deeply moved by both "Camp Liberty," and "Gold Star." The collection functions almost as a novel, as more is revealed about the characters and what the families experienced throughout the collection as the author moves through the length of the deployment. The author writes with insight and compassion, and I would highly recommend this book to either a military or non-military audience: it is an amazing look into the challenges that military families face, as well as a study of human character.
LadyMin More than 1 year ago
You Know When The Men Are Gone is a beautifully written slender volume of short stories centering around the wives of deployed soldiers based at Ft. Hood, Texas. The stories are loosely related involving different families and different situations, but with a common thread running through each of them that highlights the emotional drain of having a spouse deployed in Iraq and away for a year. ~~~~~~~~ Sometimes depressing, sometimes sad and occasionally humorous, all are written with the compassion and knowledge of someone who has been there. These are not war stories; there is no political agenda. It is a window into the lives of our military families, opened for a brief moment, giving us a glimpse of their world. Some have children, some do not, others are newly wed and barely know each other while others know each other only too well. All are moving tales and all will make you think. ~~~~~~~~ I read this book quickly and then I wanted more. The author has a wonderful writing style with smoothly flowing words and quickly developed characters. It was easy to feel their emotions: loneliness, pain, obsession, suspicion, distrust. Many of the stories deal with infidelity and how difficult it is to be separated from a spouse. ~~~~~~~~ Most of the stories are told from the point of view of the wives. Several are told by the men. Leave is one of the stories told by a husband who is suspicious that his wife is cheating on him. He plots and plans a way to find out the truth and carries his plan out as if it were a military mission. I found this one to be particularly haunting and powerful and am still thinking about it now. He gets his answers but we are left to wonder what he does with the information. ~~~~~~~~ This is a wonderful book, a compelling look into the personal relationships of the men and women in the military, and I highly recommend it. ~~~ Leslie ~~ Under My Apple Tree
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You Know When the Men Are Gone is a stunning debut. Fallon's prose is spare and clean and beautiful, but it is her characters that will leave you breathless. They are all so alive and real, different in many ways, but strung together by a bright thread of common experience. This is a devastating book, and beautiful. Devastatingly beautiful.
DebiG More than 1 year ago
Ordinarily, I veer away from short story collections because it's easy to abandon them after one or two stories are resolved. After hearing Fallon's interview on Fresh Air, however, I knew this would be a must-read. If I have any criticism, it's that the wives as a whole are elevated in terms of educational background. For that matter, though, so are many of their husbands. Each story crafts a unique heartbreak for the reader. Each story presents a previously unexamined perspective on military life. Each story is well-written and literary. Along with The Goon Squad, this will be one of my frequently recommended books of 2011.
librarysusie More than 1 year ago
I want to start off this review by saying I grew up an Air Force brat and was also at one time an Air Force wife. The first paragraph of this book grabbed me immediately with its spot on description of base housing. This book is made up of short stories about how the families cope when their men go off to war. And how they cope when they do or don't come home. A very eclectic mix of short stories that were loosely intersected and very good but all seemed to end suddenly and you were left to figure out how their (the characters) stories end. However this book will pull you in and won't let you go, with each story telling you a different side of the lives of our servicemen and their families, and was very true to life. I loved the author notes at the end; they were very meaningful to me. This would have been 5 stars but for the stories having abrupt endings. 4 Stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is like nothing I've read before. I learned that I do not know nearly enough about military life and the sacrifices these soldiers and families make. The families suffer far more than separation. The soldiers and their families cannot possibly pick up where they left off. Things change; people change. The book is beautifully written with crisp, tight prose-not a superfluous word. The stories are so real and the characters are well developed. "You Know When the Men are Gone" is unlike any short story collection I have read in the way that characters reappear and the characters' lives . The first time I went to the ballet, I felt sick to my stomach because it was so beautiful and something totally new and it moved me so much; I felt that way reading "You Know When the Men are Gone."
RatholeBooks More than 1 year ago
As I closed the book after reading the last story in You Know When the Men Are Gone, I couldn't help thinking that you also know when an important new talent has emerged on the literary scene. Because Siobhan Fallon simply blew me away with these eight interrelated pieces which detail with a near surgical precision exactly what it is like - how it feels - to be part of the all-volunteer army that continues to fight our so-called "war on terror" thousands of miles away on the other side of our ever-shrinking planet. Every story in this jewel-like collection contains at least one moment - and often more - which will bring the hot sting of unshed tears to your eyes, if indeed you succeed in containing those tears. Because Fallon has succeeded in showing you another side of the wars, the hidden costs on the home front, which test, stretch, and often destroy military families. And these are young families, obviously - men and women, many barely out of their teens, who should be enjoying each other and their young children and babies. Instead they are faced with long and lonely separations, followed by reunions ruined by the unexplainable depressions, black rages and abberant behavior that are the unmistakable markers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While reading Fallon's stories I kept trying to think of other books I might have read which deal with the wives' stories. All that came to mind was the currently-running TV series, Army Wives, which my wife and I watch every week. I know it is based on a book, but we have not read it. Then I thought of a book from another war, Tim Farrington's moving and beautiful 2005 novel, Lizzie's War, which utilized shifting viewpoints, moving back and forth between the marine combatant in the Vietnam jungle and his wife and children back home in the States. Fallon's book easily equals that accomplishment. Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge also came to mind, mostly because that novel too is rendered as a group of interrelated stories with the title character as the unifying element. In Fallon's book what unites the stories is not a single character, but a much larger entity, the army. And also, of course, the war, with its continuing deployments and separations, which eat away at the foundations of all those still-new, young and vulnerable marriages and relationships. Strout's book won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. I have a feeling that Fallon's book will also win its share of prizes. Finally, I think You Know When the Men Are Gone should become required reading for the decision makers in Washington, from the President and Secretary of Defense all the way on down the chain of command, both civilian and military. It's probably naive of me to think this, but perhaps, having read these stories of heartbreak and misery, they would not be so quick to vote for war. It should also be read by every active duty soldier - in all branches of service. It would promote a better understanding of the lot of the women they leave behind every time they deploy. I guess I'm saying that the book deserves an extremely wide audience, because this slim volume of stories could - should - reverberate in our country for years to come. I give this book my unqualified and highest recommendation. - Tim Bazzett, author of the memoirs SOLDIER BOY: AT PLAY IN THE ASA and BOOKLOVER
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't read very often, but this was one book that I couldn't put down. I am a military spouse, one who lived in Ft. Hood, TX myself and could relate to some of these stories. I wish I could find a book similar to this to read. For me not to put a book down, when it can take me months or years to read one for I lose interest, put it down, and then pick it up gosh nows how long after that means something. Absolutely fabulous book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The stories in this book tell a story of military life often overlooked and not understood by most Americans. The author does a good job of writing that captures your imagination. But she leaves unfinished endings. This is not a criticism. It is just something a future reader should be aware of and it seems to match life a lot better than most stories that carry you through to an unsatisfying conclusion. Yes, most of the stories lead you towards an unhappy conclusion but, as a veteran, I found I could relate to many of the scenes she wrote about.
ValBianco-SONS_OF_CAIN More than 1 year ago
There are things that we all, as Americans, should know. Our history, our government, and our heritage as the freest, fairest, strongest, nation in the history of mankind would seem to be of paramount importance to any citizen's appreciation of the grand experiment that we call, the United States of America. I, for one, have always held the blood which has watered the "Tree of Freedom" for nearly two and a half centuries as sacrosanct. Yet, I must confess that in over fifty years of life, I have never fully considered the cost of freedom to the families of the men and women who protect that which we so easily take for granted. Siobhan Fallon speaks of this quiet cost of liberty from firsthand experience. To my knowledge, she has never shed blood, nor taken life in defense of our nation, yet she, like countless others, has contributed mightily to the cause of freedom. Reading YOU KNOW WHEN THE MEN ARE GONE was, for me, an advanced civics lesson. It is a compelling glimpse into the lives of the unsung heroes of every war since the American Revolution, the wives and children of the American combat soldier. To the student of military history, war is about tactics and strategy, courage under fire and relentless patience with unlivable conditions. It is easy to empathize with the tens of thousands of young lives forever altered by the last decade of war in the Middle East. Only a soulless man could fail to dry a tear at the site of wounded young soldiers devastated by war. Yet, how hard it is, to adequately consider the impact of warfare on the immediate families of our warriors. Ms. Fallon makes deft use of fiction to bring her case to the reader. Using eight short stories, the author weaves her way through a myriad of pain, joy, glory and peace. I have no doubt that her stories are based in reality, for they are far too dynamic to be pure fiction. The heroes aren't just heroic, the villains aren't always evil. What the characters are, above all, is eminently human. And this, in my opinion, is the greatest strength of her work. Gone are the textbook perceptions of one dimensional wives at home and soldiers abroad. Her characters are complex and authentic. Quietly seething beneath the each of the stories, is the timeless frustration with the futility of war. It infects each story uniquely, some times to the positive, others to the negative and often, both. I found it interesting that each story was, in itself, a unique lesson. Ms. Fallon makes excellent use of the ebb and flow of the drama of war, building synergy with each chapter, one upon the other, to draw the reader into her world. By the end of the book she has educated her reader and accomplished her purpose, deep empathy with the families of men at war. The stories are fast moving and emotional. The writing is excellent; fluid, forceful, and at times poetic. Above all the book, while entertaining, is highly educational. I will never again look at soldiers in the same way. YOU KNOW WHEN THE MEN ARE GONE has taught me a profound lesson. Battles are not fought by mere planes, tanks and ships. They are not won by strategy and tactics alone. Siobhan Fallon has taught me that wars are fought by families, families that may well feel the effects of their efforts for a lifetime. It is a lesson that I dare not forget, and for that, I thank her. I highly recommend this book to all, and most especially those of us who, heretofore, actually thought we understood war!
SummerED More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I thought it was very well written and interesting. Each story kept me intrigued. I could not put it down. The only reason I give this book four stars is because it was all short stories! I did not realize that when I first got the book so I was disappointed because there were some stories where I wanted a continuation. Overall, this book was well worth the read and helped me to gain an insight to the lives of military families.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters in this series of short stories stayed with me. Fallon manages to weave together the different men and their wives that are stationed at Ft. Hood, manages to show the fallout from a single attack. Each story stands on its own, but taken together, this book is extremely powerful.
McGuffyAnn More than 1 year ago
This debut novel gives an honest glimpse into the possible lives and situations of military families. Author Siobhan Fallon knows, as she is a military wife. Her book, You Know When the Men Are Gone is based on her experiences living in Fort Hood, Texas, while her husband, an Army Major served two tours of duty in Iraq. This book is a collection of stories involving the lives of those left behind, here at home, while their loved ones are gone off to war. We see what their spouses, families, do in their absence, including how, and with whom, they spend their time. We experience the seeming holding pattern they feel they are in. Loneliness is the obvious common thread in these stories. We see how the women come together to keep each other busy, to pick up the slack left in time's void. They help each other in keeping memories of spouses active with meetings, making group care packages, supporting the spouses gone to war, and each other left at home. While this is a novel, it is based on the reality of the lives of our own military families. We see how those gone to war are affected and need our support, our care. Siobhan Fallon makes us think of those left here, among us. They are in need of our support and care
tarync More than 1 year ago
Being the wife of an Army Reservist I found this book interesting and timely. I think that Ms. Fallon did a great job writing her first novel. I believe she was accurate in portraying how difficult it is to be a military spouse and the toll frequent deployments take on the entire family. Even in times of peace the frequent moves of military familes put extraordinary stress on the spouses. The extent of community support you find within the military and code of ethics is sometimes hard for civilians to imagine. The book was a bit depressing but I think realistic. Next time you see a soldier or Army spouse, please thank them ALL for their service, as it is often comes at great personal cost.
AreaderAR More than 1 year ago
a very spell-binding peak into what life in the military or living a military spouse might look like. i lived the book and was disappointed to see it end
TulaneGirl More than 1 year ago
So this is a collection of short stories about military families and the difficulties they face with long deployments in the years after 9/11. Like with all anthologies, some stories are stronger than others and, to be quite honest, the first story is the weakest. Two things stopped me from giving this book 5 stars; 1) there weren't any stories of deployed women; and 2) there weren't any happy families. There are lots of struggles being a military family, but many have happy homes and this book didn't represent any of those families. Of course, it probably doesn't make for great literature to speak of the happy and well adjusted.
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