You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon is a great book of short stories! (see her comments). All connected by their location at the military base of Fort Hood, Texas, the chapters are told by the women who are waiting for their men to return home. Fort Hood housing, like all army housing is very intimate, “you hear through the walls… you learn too much”. The base becomes very quiet when the men are gone. But life continues – bills have to be paid, “babies still cry, telephones ring, Saturday morning cartoons screech, but without the men, there is a sense of a muted life” (Fallon).
I love that Fallon shares that when you leave Fort Hood, the sign by the gate warns, You’ve Survived the War, Now Survive the Homecoming. Homecomings are not easy, husbands and wives getting to know each other again and shifting responsibilities.The author speaks from experience, she is a military wife and her husband has deployed three times to the Middle East. The stories are fiction but are based on true experiences.
I learned so much about the lives of army wives and the rules established by the military order. One surprising story was a woman who believed her husband was having an affair with another woman soldier in his battalion and she can appeal to the commander at the base about her suspicions. The commander can order a transfer of any soldier from a battalion in order to preserve the marriage and the unit. It makes sense. If you have an unhappy marriage it can effect the soldier and thus the safety of the whole unit. But the level of control by the military command over your lives on the base and in the military was unknown to me. She captures the experience, the mood, the ups and downs for the military family. Another fact I did not know is that if your husband / wife dies in the line of duty, the family gets a special parking spot. It is an honor to have the parking spot but who would really want that “award”? Try this book, it is now in paperback and it is a window into a world of silent heroes, the wives and their families.
Tracy’s 2 cents!