Never date a military man. That is the lesson "You Know When the Men are Gone" by Siobhan Fallon taught me. The book is a collection of short, loosely tied together stories. They are all about the relationships of military personnel and the families of these persons. Perspectives change from story to story, but the themes run deep from frustration, fear, hurt, heartbreak, hope, loss, disappointment, love, and longing as individuals make their way through their deployment or that of a loved one in Iraq.
The stories circle around Fort Hood, a military base in Texas, where wives wait for their men to return from war. The men overseas dream about the women who they believe are yearning for them. Here is a book that opens your eyes to the complications of living an army life and the strain it puts on personal relationships. How fragile relationships are and how even the strongest men have weaknesses. The one thing you think you can rely on, your love and family, become twisted and complicated. It's not just the distance affecting the relationship and sometimes love isn't enough to make it work.
This is a fascinating read. Fallon held my attention from page to page, story to story. One of my worries was having to get to know each new narrator, but I found myself drawn into each character. The stories are captivating. Since the author is a woman, I expected all the stories to be from the female perspective, but was happily surprised to find many stories from the male point of view as well. However, you could tell that this is a woman writing because the stories got into the emotional world of each character in a way that I rarely see men tap into. You won't want to put this one down. I highly suggest reading it.