You Know When the Men are Gone by Siobhan Fallon. Amy Einhorn/Putnam, 2011.
[Source: publisher at ALA]
You Know When the Men are Gone is a collection of short stories by Siobhan Fallon. Fallon herself is an army wife, and this firsthand experience allows her to write meaningful and believable stories about life in the military. Each story is loosely connected with the others. Some of the main characters pop up in other stories as ancilliary characters and vice versa.
It is hard to pick a favorite, but I have to say mine was "Camp Liberty." In this story, David “Moge” Mogeson struggles with the decision of whether or not he will leave the army when his tour is up. He struggles with identifying with his wife at home while paired with a female interpreter who understands exactly what he is going through. He is a good soldier who cares well for the men in his command. Will he leave them to their fate with another leader and return to his civilian life or stick with them and risk his entire life? It’s just the guilt-ridden, life and death decision soldiers make every day.
Fallon’s stories give life to the anxiety, uncertainty, and doubt that I imagine every soldier and soldier’s spouse experience at some point. Several of Fallon’s stories brought tears to my eyes and some elicited chills. I read You Know When the Men are Gone over the course of two weeks. I felt the need to space out the stories because of the highly intense emotions they evoke.
Regardless of whether or not this is your typical reading fare, you should read this book. It will touch you and give you new insight into the military life that the brave few face.
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You Know When the Men are Gone