2013-05-02 / Columns

Off the Bookshelf

Home Front
By Maralee Kalianoff

If you aren’t already a diehard Kristin Hannah fan, her recent novel, “Home Front,” will certainly win you over.

Jolene Larson grew up in a war zone; her parents, fueled by alcohol, fought violently. Jolene’s mother was too busy trying to persuade her husband to love her to spend any time, effort or love on Jolene. At 17, Jolene is orphaned when her parents, drunk as usual, crash their car only a few miles from their home and are killed instantly.

With no money and no means to support herself, Jolene finishes high school and joins the army. Qualifying for the “high school to flight school” helicopter-pilot training program, Jolene not only discovers her passion for flying, she also meets Tami Flynn, who will remain her best friend for the rest of her life.

Some 20 years later, Jolene is married to Michael, the love of her life, and is totally happy in her role as mom to 12-yearold Betsy and four-year-old Lulu. Maintaining her love of flying, Jolene is a captain in the National Guard, a pilot flying Black Hawk helicopters. Making her life nearly perfect, her best friend Tami lives next door and is also a pilot in the Guard.

Husband Michael, opposed to anything military, does not share Jolene’s enthusiasm for her “little job” with the Guard. He tolerates it as long as it doesn’t interfere with his family’s life. Formerly a loving and supportive husband, lawyer Michael has begun pulling away from the family after the death of his father, a situation which Michael simply can’t handle.

With her marriage deteriorating, Jolene’s life suddenly becomes much more complicated when she learns her Guard Unit is being deployed to Iraq. Michael is furious at the prospect of being left alone to take care of his children and run the house along with his busy career. Although Jolene regrets leaving her children, she knows it is her obligation to go. The one bright spot in the situation is that Tami, as a member of the same unit, will be right beside her the entire time.

Iraq is worse than either Jolene or Tami could have imagined. The weather and living conditions are almost intolerable and the longer they are there, the more frequently they are called upon to fly dangerous missions. They slowly begin to realize that, no matter what the outcome of this deployment, their lives will never be the same.

“Home Front” is a complex story that deals with sensitive issues. Kristin Hannah addresses those issues with tenderness, insight and compassion. An excellent book, “Home Front” can be found at the Harry L. Petrie Library in Linton.

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If a book you are looking for is not available at the Harry L. Petrie Library, Librarian Carla Frison will be happy to obtain it from the North Dakota State Library for you. If you return the book to the State Library in Bismarck within the allotted time, there is no charge. The staff can return it by mail but will have to charge you for postage.

Hours for the library in Linton are Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., closed on Tuesdays, 2-5 p.m. on Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and 2-5 p.m. on Friday. Friends of the Library meets every first Monday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Library. Everyone is welcome.

To contact Maralee, e-mail her: bonus73@hotmail.com and put Off the Bookshelf in the subject line.

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