You Know When the Men Are Gone by Shiobhan Fallon
Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
Genre: fiction, short stories
Review: In this collection of short, loosely connected stories, Shiobhan Fallon tries to give the reader an insider's view of military family life. The stories all deal with an army cavalry division deployed from Fort Hood, TX to Iraq; some stories deal with the soldiers, others with their wives, and they all touch on the difficulties military families face both when they are separated for long periods of time, as well as when they are reunited.
Some of the stories ring true, like the story of a wife who is concerned that her husband has started an affair with a female soldier while he is overseas. Others strike a false note, like the one where a woman describes listening to the "wildly beating heart" of her fetus. With other stories, it seems that Fallon wrote herself into a corner she didn't know how to get of. The best example of this is the story of Meg who becomes obsessed with her new neighbor, Natalya. Natalya’s husband is deployed with Meg’s, but Natalya herself is a mystery. At the end of the story, the husbands all return (Meg’s and Natalya’s among them) and that is that. No explanation is given for any of Natalya’s actions, nor is she even mentioned in the rather abrupt conclusion.
By and large, though, these stories can be enjoyed by both military and non-military readers. They may resonate with members of the military or their family members, and will give a glimpse into military lives for those of us with no military connection.
FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for this review.