Thursday, February 6, 2014
Book Review: Band of Sisters: Coming Home by Annette Lyon
Author: Annette Lyon
Enjoyment Rating: ***
This book would be rated: PG
I am the first person to admit that my review of Annette Lyon's first Band of Sister's book was not as generous as it could have been (although, for some reason, I can't find it in my archive to link it). I think it's possible that my comment about how the Utah County setting of the novel didn't seem the most natural fit for a novel about military wives was addressed directly in the second book (they were in the National Guard! that's what I get for not reading closely!). But I started this book with what I hoped was an open mind, and I'm happy to report that I found it much more interesting and complex and less sentimental than the first novel.
The books follow the lives of five women whose husbands have been deployed with the same National Guard unit. At the beginning of Coming Home, the men, you guessed it, come home (or at least four of them do, the fifth was tragically killed in the first book). And while the wives are filled with starry-eyed excitement for their husbands' return, they all find that reentry is not as easy as they expected it would be.
One of the things I loved about this novel is watching how all five women grew so much while their husbands were gone, but might not have recognized that growth until they had them back. They learned to rely on themselves, and they almost universally found themselves bristling when they had to answer to someone else on a regular basis. One of the wives is struggling not just with her husband's return, but his retirement, and the way he seems intent on keeping her on a much shorter leash than she's accustomed. Another finds her husband struggling with unemployment and PTSD, a third has trouble trusting her husband with the baby who was born in his absence, a fourth must decide whether or not to leave her husband, who was abusive before he left and continues his abuse when he returns. The fifth, of course, has to adjust to her new life as a permanent single mom to her kids. I liked seeing the very real struggles of these women and felt that Lyon added depth to their characters.