This week I finished up reading Homefront, by Kristen Tsetsi. (You may have seen the occasional comment from Kristen here.) I don’t usually write book reviews here, because it’s difficult to apply my snarky rating system to them (“this book put my wife to sleep in N minutes” … nah, doesn’t really work), but I’m making an exception for Kristen because I really want to encourage people to pick up her novel.
Homefront is the story of how a young woman named Mia attempts to cope when her boyfriend is sent to fight in the war in Iraq. By now, everyone who has read more than a few posts here knows that I work in the horror, fantasy, and science fiction genres (and humor/satire, if you count Dennis’s Diary of Destruction), but those are far from the only genres I read, as a glance at my list of favorite authors and favorite books will reveal. Margaret Atwood has written some science fiction, of course (The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake come to mind), and The Time Traveler’s Wife is technically science fiction, but the real appeal of these books is in the relationships of the characters, the ideas on display, and the authors’ use of language.
It’s the same with Homefront. The war in Iraq is the catalyst, but the book is not about war; it’s a character and relationship study. Mia’s interaction with the people around her, especially fare-turned-quasi-friend Donny and fellow Army wife Denise, is the engine for an incisive look at separation, loss, fidelity, guilt, and uncertainty. I really enjoyed this book on the level of both content and style, and would rank it with other portraits of women under pressure, such as my favorite Atwood novel, Cat’s Eye, and Janet Fitch’s Paint it Black. Anyone who enjoys either of those authors, or Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, should definitely give Homefront a read. I think you won’t be disappointed.
I should also mention that Homefront concludes with one of the more satisfying endings I’ve read recently. I should have seen it coming, but didn’t. I love it when that happens.