You Know When the Men Are Gone

You Know When the Men Are Gone

by Siobhan Fallon


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451234391
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/03/2012
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 252,761
Product dimensions: 5.54(w) x 8.52(h) x 0.56(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Siobhan Fallon is the author of the novel The Confusion of Languages and the short story collection You Know When the Men Are Gone, which won the PEN Center USA Literary Award in Fiction, the Indies Choice Honor Award, and the Texas Institute of Letters Award for First Fiction. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post Magazine, Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping, Military SpouseThe Huffington Post, and NPR’s Morning Edition, among others. She and her family moved to Jordan in 2011, and they currently live in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

What People are Saying About This

Benjamin Percy

There is the war we know – from Hollywood and CNN, about dirt-smeared soldiers disarming IEDs and roaring along in Humvees and kicking down the doors of terrorist hideouts – and then there is the battleground at home depicted by breakout author Siobhan Fallon, an army wife with a neglected, deeply important perspective and a staggering arsenal of talent, her sentences popping like small arm fire, her stories scaring a gasp out of you like tracer rounds burning in the night sky over your home town. --(Benjamin Percy, author of The Wilding, Refresh, Refresh, and The Language of Elk)

Tanya Biank

"A brilliant work of fiction that speaks a haunting truth on every page. This is an important work that should be embraced by the military community and beyond." --(Tanya Biank, Author of Army Wives, the basis for the Lifetime TV drama Army Wives)

Nathaniel Fick

"Siobhan Fallon's You Know When the Men are Gone is a haunting elegy to those who bear the real burden when our nation goes to war: the spouses and children left behind. She writes with the authority of hard-earned experience, and this collection of stories has much to teach us all."--(Nathaniel Fick, author of One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer)

Jean Kwok

“Siobhan Fallon is a remarkable debut author whose first collection of short stories, YOU KNOW WHEN THE MEN ARE GONE, signals the debut of a new American talent. I was drawn into a world I had never seen before, and found heartache, courage, and laughter there.” --(Jean Kwok, author of Girl in Translation)

From the Publisher

"Significant both as war stories and love stories, this collection certifies Fallon as an indisputable talent." —-Publishers Weekly Starred Review

Dani Shapiro

"In this poignant and beautiful collection of linked stories, Siobhan Fallon has created a world of characters we need to know. These are our wounded, our courageous, our disheartened, our cynical and our brave. You won't read these stories on the front pages of the newspaper, but still they feel like a news flash about the emotional toll of war. YOU KNOW WHEN THE MEN ARE GONE delivers to us the inner lives of families who fight for our country while fighting their own deepest fears and demons. This is a brave and illuminating book."--( Dani Shapiro, author of DEVOTION )

Jill Ciment

"What a fascinating, rare glimpse into the domesticity of war. This is a wonderful debut. Each beautifully rendered story is braced with intelligence and wisdom."--(Jill Ciment, author of The Tattoo Artist)

Reading Group Guide


There is an army of women waiting for their men to return to Fort Hood, Texas. As Siobhan Fallon shows in this collection of loosely interconnected short stories, each woman deals with her husband's absence differently. One wife, in an attempt to avoid thinking about the risks her husband faces in Iraq, develops an unhealthy obsession with the secret life of her neighbor. Another woman's simple trip to the PX becomes unbearable when she pulls into her Gold Star parking space. And one woman's loneliness may lead to dire consequences when her husband arrives home. In gripping, no-nonsense stories that will leave you shaken, Siobhan Fallon allows you into a world tightly guarded by gates and wire. It is a place where men and women cling to the families they have created as the stress of war threatens to pull them apart.


Siobhan Fallon lived at Fort Hood while her husband, an Army major, was deployed to Iraq for two tours of duty. She earned her MFA at the New School in New York City. She lives with her family in Monterey, California.

  • In the first story, "You Know When the Men Are Gone," why does the narrator develop such an obsession with her neighbor? While it turns out that Natalya is worthy of Meg's scrutiny, is it easier for Meg to be a nosy neighbor than for her to focus on the danger her husband faced overseas?
  • Infidelity is a recurring theme in many of the stories. Did this surprise you?
  • Most of the stories take place in Fort Hood. Why do you think "Camp Liberty" is included in the collection if it takes place in Iraq? Is it in keeping with the other stories?
  • In "Camp Liberty," "Leave," and "The Last Stand," the main characters are men. Does that change the feel from the rest of the collection, which is primarily from a female point of view?
  • Many of the stories in You Know When the Men Are Gone are about the relationships between men and women. How would these stories change if the protagonists were flipped? If, say, "Inside the Break" was told from Manny's point of view instead of Kailani's? Or if "Leave" followed Trish instead of Nick?
  • In "The Last Stand," why does Helena sleep with Kit in the hotel room? Do you find her sympathetic?
  • In "Remission," Ellen feels that she is pitied by the other wives because of her cancer, but considered lucky because her husband has not been deployed. Does either of these circumstances outweigh the other? Is there a sliding scale of "tragedy" and "luck" in the lives of the families in Fort Hood? In your own life?
  • "Inside the Break" mentions pamphlets with such titles as "Roadmap to Reintegration," "What to Expect When Deployed Soldiers Return," and "Communicating with Your Spouse." Is it possible to sum up, in writing, the vast emotional landscape that families and soldiers experience upon the soldiers' return? Do you think Siobhan Fallon attempted to do that with this collection? If you think so, did she succeed?
  • What do you think the husband does at the end of "Leave"?
  • In "You've Survived the War, Now Survive the Homecoming," the sign refers to drunk driving, but do you think the author intends it as a metaphor for more?
  • In the same story, toward the end, Fallon writes: "Their fate depended on whether Carla walked out of the room with the baby or stood next to her husband. She bit her lip and wondered if this was the sum of a marriage: wordless recriminations or reconciliations, every breath either striving against or toward the other person, each second a decision to exert or abdicate the self." Do you agree with this take on marriage? Or do you think it's applicable only under extreme circumstances?
  • Which is your favorite story, and why?
  • Obviously the stories in You Know When the Men Are Gone are tied together by Fort Hood. What other themes do the stories share?
  • Customer Reviews

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    You Know When the Men Are Gone 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 136 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
    michellereads on LibraryThing 8 months ago
    I absolutely loved it. Beautifully written. An emotionally satisfying glimpse into the everyday life of a military spouse, at all stages of deployment. I've recommended it to friends (military wives themselves) and I can't wait to read more by author Siobhan Fallon. Five stars.
    Jcambridge on LibraryThing 8 months ago
    I read this for a book club and while I found it interesting, I expected more. A couple of the stories left the reader hanging, which was frustrating but at the same time let the reader develop any number of alternative endings to each story. I was disappointed that no story focused on the female soldier and the challenges she faces particularly if she (and perhaps her husband as well if both are deployed) leave children behind. Perhaps this scenario will emerge in the next book by this author. It was a thought-provoking book, particularly since I read in over Memorial Day weekend.
    UnderMyAppleTree on LibraryThing 8 months 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 them highlighting 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 only too well, but all are moving tales and all will make you think.Highly recommended.
    busyreadin on LibraryThing 8 months ago
    Short stories revolving around the lives of the women left behind when their husbands are sent overseas.
    ShortStorySlore on LibraryThing 8 months ago
    You Know When the Men Are Gone is 8 linked stories based on the soldiers and families living in Fort Hood. Fallon covers the perspective of the wives waiting at home, holding their breath everyday for word from their husbands, men trying to get home to their families, and men coming home and realizing it's not where they want to be. And finally, a story told from a widow's POV.Fallon, who used to live in Fort Hood, has the ability to take the reader into this world where most women and children are without their husbands and fathers, where a woman whose husband is home and not with his unit makes her the odd one out in the community - not because she is battling cancer and dealing with a runaway child. She depicts children acting out, men coming back home as different men, soldiers discovering their marriages aren't how they left them. Fallon opens up a community that the majority of us don't experience first hand, the friendships that are formed between the women left at home, and how war not only affects the people carrying the guns, but the people left behind.Favorite Piece: Gold Star. I get sucked into the tragic stories, the ones that pull at your emotions until you're curled up into a ball on the couch with a box of tissues, hoping against hope for an unplausible happy ending. Throughout the book we are told that Sergeant Schaeffer was killed and this story follows his wife in the aftermath of his death. From the special parking spot at the grocery store for widows, to the constant stream of soldiers and women who paid her visits after her husband's death, to all the little memories she feels fading away.Fallon went after the most difficult situation and felt her way through it, and it was powerful and moving - I only wish she had done that more often in this collection. With so many strained marriages, soldiers fearing their wives are cheating, wives fearing the soldiers are finding comfort from someone else, I kept waiting for a confrontation, to see what happens after a soldier comes home and deals with an affair, how is a marriage affected afterwards and how does the community respond? Is there gossip, do the other wives have your back or do they secretly judge you for leaving or staying with someone who strays? I thought there were so many situations and predicaments that could have been covered with these families in Fort Hood, and I was a tad disappointed that not everything was covered. And how could Fallon cover everything? If she had, the book would be neverending. I guess I was expecting confrontations and blow ups or more stories told from the POV of the person cheating, and as I put the book down, I felt like many stories covered the person who was cheated on, the person who doesn't get the full story, and as the reader I wanted to know it all. I get that some people wouldn't want to know, that they would say whatever happened while their partners away wouldn't affect the rest of their marriage, but someone had to want to know. And as the reader, I wanted to see that play out. But when I make these complaints, it means I did care about the characters and relationships Fallon told. She tapped into a small part of this world - mostly focused on the strained marriages - and now I want more. I want to know about these women who stay behind, what they say about each other and their friendships. Are they only friends because they live in Fort Hood? Are there unspoken rules about what to say and what not to say? How do they feel when one of their own goes through the very worst? Maybe Fallon's next collection will cover that, but for now, I'll enjoy the 8 stories she did tell.
    Booklady123 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
    This was a hard book for me to read. I was drawn to this book, in hopes that it would not be a political condemnation of the military. It wasn't. The stories were emotionally engaging and very well written. I really wanted to like this book, and deep down a part of me did.However, as a military wife, I'm tired of stories that only show the down side of military life. That is not to say that I only want to read Pollyanna like stories were all is well and everyone gets a long. I just want to see a more balanced story. Perhaps I should just right my own.What I do like about this book is that while the stories do not necessarily show the life of an Army wife in the most positive light, they are realistic. Having gone through a number of times "when the men are gone", I have seen many situations like those described in the stories.If you are looking for a political statement on the military or the war, this is not the book for you. If you are looking a feel good book about military life, this is not the book for you. If, however, you are looking for a well written, emotionally engaging glimpse into just some of the challenges our military families face, then you should read this book.As I said this was hard book for me to read. I'm glad I did and I've even added it to my wish list. However, I'm not sure I will recommend it to my fellow Army wives.
    saskreader on LibraryThing 8 months ago
    This is a masterful collection of short stories, and I think it will make my top 10 reads of the year so far. The stories have a slightly mesmerizing readability and I like how the characters are not so much as connected, but rather how their lives kind of brush up against each other. Every family is different and deals with the same set of circumstances in a different way, and these stories were so realistic and well-written, I had to keep reminding myself they weren't true. This is a fantastic book, and I appreciate the glimpse into a segment of society (military families) that I normally wouldn't know a lot about.
    nancyewhite on LibraryThing 8 months ago
    Barely linked short stories that focus on Fort Hood in a time of deployment. Individually the stories are beautifully written, emotionally satisfying and filled with believable detail. Fallon is a soldier's wife, so she knows of what she writes. The focus is primarily on the women left behind and that brings something to life that is largely missing from the war canon. However, the collection itself feels a little slight. A few additional stories as good as these would have made the book an entire meal instead of just the first course.
    actonbell on LibraryThing 8 months ago
    Seldom do I finish a book in one or two sittings, but I did so with You Know When the Men Are Gone, by Siobhan Fallon. These eight short stories depict the lives of the soldiers and the left behind wives of Fort Hood, Texas. The wives have various ways of dealing with the stress, worry, and pressure of keeping their families together by themselves, while their husbands dream of coming home and live for that phone call.Fort Hood is a world within itself, and the families circle together closely, acting as a temporary family, supporting each other. They live under the same rules and are in many ways a tightknit community. Despite the closeness and support, though, they are also isolated from the outside world and tend to move on every couple years.The future is never certain. Each story has a different narrator and its own sets of stressors. One story takes place in Iraq, but the rest happen in Fort Hood. Some stories are told from a wife's point of view, some from the soldier's, but all show extreme emotional anguish. Some kind of doubt haunts them all, and none of the stories are resolved. Fallon has left them open-ended, for our consideration. I found them all riveting. Once I'd started a story, I couldn't put it down. A great book for discussion, and I would recommend it to anyone.Thank you, I enjoyed this very much!