When She Came Home

They say you can’t really write about the military or being a soldier unless you have actually been there. But for an author who has not served in the military, Drusilla Campbell captures her character, a Marine, so well. In fact, I’d tear through her autobiography just to get proof that she WAS in the military, because she sure has me convinced here. Her novel, When She Came Home, is about Frankie Byrne, a new mother who enlisted in the Marines right after 9/11. She was deployed to Iraq for 10 months, and while her mission was to help build a school, she was not blind to the realities of war going on over there. In fact, Frankie ended up witnessing something happen that haunts her long after she goes home and tries to readjust to life “before Iraq.” Then she has to adjust to life “after Iraq” and that life is just a mess.

Frankie has a whole bunch of things to deal with in this story. Her father “the General,” who was never crazy about Frankie’s decision to enlist and is always so callous towards her. Her 8-year-old daughter, Glory, can’t seem to remember the mom she knew and loved before she went away, and starts rebelling at school and home by being violent and uncooperative. Then there’s Rick, Frankie’s husband who throws his own pity party while his wife is quietly, secretly a nervous wreck and falling apart. Meanwhile, Frankie is also trying to help her friend, Domino, who is homeless yet is somehow found then beaten by her abusive ex-husband. And just when it seems to be too much for Frankie to handle, a senator on a mission to find justice for the wrong done in Iraq pushes her to testify about what she saw, while her godfather, one of her father’s war buddies, is pushing Frankie not to testify, going on about how she would be betraying the Marine Corps and hurting her father.

War is hell, but sometimes, real life is hell, too. That fact is made so evident in this gripping, provocative novel. Frankie may have left a war zone in Iraq, but she came back to a war zone right in her own home. Her family is falling apart and she herself is falling apart as she struggles with PTSD. It got to where I kept asking, “How is she going to get out of this? How will things get better? Can they even get better?” Frankie does try to make things right by going to therapy, but the therapy can only do so much for her. She has to open up, she has to talk to people. She kept keeping things locked up inside and not even writing them down in a journal. I got pretty irritated by Rick constantly throwing a “I didn’t sign up for this” comment around but grateful Frankie DID have some people who understood her and supported her. This novel really made me think about our troops and our veterans who suffer from PTSD. It’s a very powerful story and I found it to be a book that was really hard to put down. I enjoyed reading this book and definitely recommend it.

Frankie Byrne returns from her deployment as a Marine in Iraq only to find that her life is a mess. Her world as she knew it is shattered and as she tries to put it all back together, too many things keep messing it all up again. Her daughter is angry and rebelling, her husband doesn’t even know her anymore, her father, a Marine General, refuses to love her and accept her, and Frankie is being pushed to testify about what she saw in Iraq. As if that is not enough, she is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, living in and out of the nightmares of Iraq. Can she find the help she needs to make her life good again? Will she find the courage to overcome her demons and help her family to heal?

Book Blurb for When She Came Home

Frankie Byrne Tennyson stunned everyone when she decided to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. Now-after bravely serving her country in Iraq-she's finally come home. Home to a husband whose lingering feelings of abandonment make her wonder if their lives can ever be the same. Home to a daughter whose painful encounters with bullies can only be healed by a mother's love. And home to a father who still can't accept his daughter's decision to serve in spite of his own stellar career as a brigadier general. But the most difficult part about coming home lies within Frankie herself. To save everything she holds dear, she must face the toughest battle of her life . . .

A moving portrait of a modern American family, WHEN SHE CAME HOME reminds us that some things-honor, acceptance, and, above all, love-are truly worth fighting for.

Night Owl Reviews Jan, 0001 5.00