You Know When the Men are Gone by Siobhan Fallon

Siobhan Fallon used the babysitting services offered at Fort Hood during her husband's two tours in Iraq to find time to create a selection of short stories about the effects of deployment on families and the very bonds of marriage. Titled You Know the Men are Gone (2011), I can already see this being included on my list of favorite reads for the year.

Fallon shows a Fort Hood of loneliness while being surrounded too closely by others (military housing), money shortages (the base is surrounded by pawn shops and money lenders), and youth (in age and length of marriage). The families left behind face a grim reality, and she doesn't sugarcoat the subject.

A recurring theme in the loosely-connected stories is infidelity. What I consider the strongest story in the collection is actually about a soldier who comes home on leave in secret to hide in his own home, hoping to learn the truth about reports of his wife having an affair.

Fallon provides an insider's view of military family life, something very appreciated by this outsider.

My overall personal rating of You Know When the Men are Gone is an A-.


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