Monday, April 4, 2011

You Know When The Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon

Occasionally I receive free uncorrected proofs of books from publishers. Assumedly they’re hoping I’ll read the book and publish a positive review on my blog. 

When I received You Know When The Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon and saw that it was about military families stationed at Fort Hood, Texas my first thought was, “Oh great, more glorification of war.” However, I couldn’t not read it because Fort Hood is practically in my “hood.”

So You Know When The Men Are Gone is eight loosely connected short stories that portray the domestic side of war; a glimpse into what life is like for military families when the spouses are deployed to dangerous war zones. One of the most interesting things about this book was that the issues, challenges and problems the families encountered had less to do with their military circumstance than just plain ole’ life. They struggled with the same stuff everyone struggles with (but in the context of military life and middle-eastern deathtraps): money, children, marriage, class distinction, etc.

It took me about 10 pages to get into Siobhan Fallon’s writing rhythm, but after I did it became comfortable, enjoyable, and sprinkled with ‘aha’ and ‘wow’ moments. And I should add that although I was a little surprised at the commonality of the issues that created tension in the book, I was also fascinated by the context (military life), so that aspect of the book wasn’t lost on me.

My sister’s husband was career military and several of my summers were spent with them on military bases, so I was somewhat familiar with that lifestyle (very self-contained, separate, like a community).  But I didn’t get much insight into the strain created by spouses being exposed to combat, injury, and death. I guess we all worry about our loved ones’ safety, but I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the concept of my hubby, son or daughter in daily extreme danger. Siobhan Fallon’s book didn’t enhance my imagination in that direction, but then I don’t think that was her intent. I think she really just wanted to show how everyday life looks like in military families, and she did that very well. 


  1. Excellent book. Not always pleasant to read and it made me cry sometimes, but very worth continuing to read. I've enjoyed her other books as well. Cameel

  2. Thank you, SueAnn!
    So glad you liked the book and took the time to post about it.
    All the best to you,

  3. I am honored that you commented on my blog Siobhan! Thanks - and thanks for your lovely writing...