Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Home and Away: My Review

Home and Away: A Story of Family in a Time of War

About the Book:
David French picked up the newspaper in the comfort of his penthouse in Philadelphia, and read about a soldier - father of two - who was wounded in Iraq. Immediately, he was stricken with a question: Why him and not me?

This is the story of what happens when a person - rather a family - answers the call to serve their nation. David was a 37-year-old father of two, a Harvard Law graduate and president of a free speech organization. In other words, he was used to pushing pencils, not toting M16s.

His wife Nancy was raising two children and writing from home. She was worrying about field trips and playdates, not about her husband going to war.

HOME AND AWAY chronicles not just a soldier at war, but a family at war - a husband in Iraq, a wife and children at home, greeting each day with hope and fear, facing the challenge with determination, tears, and more than a little joy.

My Comments:
My dad was in the Air Force when I was a young child (he retired when I was in sixth grade). Somehow he managed, through good luck and by accepting assignments that others didn't want, to spend almost the entire Viet Nam era in the Air Force without ever getting close to the place.  As I got older and realized that not only were Americans not happy with the war, but that they were also unhappy about the warriors, I shook my head in dismay.  My dad and my friends' dads were not horrible people, they were men who went to work every day to support their families and defend their country.  

When the Gulf War broke out, I was pleased to see that while there was a vigorous political debate about whether we should be engaging in that particular action and to what degree and to what end; in general the American public was supportive of the members of the military.  However, one thing I've read in many places is that while military service used to be a frequent male rite of passage across many income levels, today it is increasingly the job of a professional military class--made of those whose fathers (and now mothers) made a career of the military and who plan to do so themselves--and of a rotating cast of the poor who join because they lack other options.  Most of our middle or upper income families do not have members in the military and don't want to.  

David French was someone who did not have to join the Army.  He had many reasons not to join--including a good job, a wife and two young kids.  However, he felt God calling him to put his money where his mouth was and to join the Army Reserves, which he knew would lead to a deployment in the Middle East.  This book tells the story of the year he was away.  Some chapters are by David, some by his wife, Nancy.  They each tell the story of how they lived that year.  He processed detainees in Iraq and taught the rules of engagement to soldiers.  She reduced their debt, took care of the kids and wrote.  They kept in touch via the internet.  

I enjoyed this book.  David and Nancy are people of  faith and while the book is by no means preachy, nor does it overtly suggest you adopt their faith, their relationship with God is obvious throughout the book.  Deployments are known to be hard on military marriages and David and Nancy describe how they worked to preserve their marriage during that time--and the struggles they faced.  Nancy tells us about the support she received from friends, family and members of her church.  David describes the conditions he faced in Iraq.  

David is conservative politically and it shows in this book.  My husband is conservative politically and anyone who is around him any amount of time knows it.  I recommend very few of the books I read to him (I have a hard time seeing him with a sappy romance novel) but I told him he'd like this one.  Grade:  A

I'd like to thank the publisher for providing a complimentary review copy.  I was not obligated to write a positive review.  


  1. I just finished this last night for FWC. I too enjoyed it and plan to pass it along to Scott.

  2. "I have a hard time seeing him with a sappy romance novel"

    Me too.

    Good review; I may keep an eye out for this at the library.


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