An Independent Reading Option for High School Students
Kristin Hannah’s books are always page turners. I think I have read every single one of them. Home Front (written in 2012) is largely overshadowed by her siblings Firefly Lane, The Great Alone, The Nightingale, and The Four Winds.
I wrote this review in 2012 when the book first came out, but I think it is important to revisit this readable and relatable novel. This is certainly a book worth reading.
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Home Front Summary
Summary: When we first meet Michael and Jolene, their twelve year marriage is crumbling and they are desperately try to keep it together for their kids. Then, Jolene, a soldier, is deployed and tries to shield her family from the dangers she faces on the front lines. When tragedy strikes at home, Michael has to fight a war of his own.
Add This Novel to Your Junior and Senior High School Reading List
My Thoughts (from 2012): I literally just finished this book five minutes ago and I have to say Kristin Hannah NEVER disappoints me. As usual, I feel close to the characters, I learn a lot, and I cry. I always cry.
During Home Front — which I read in three days with an infant in my house — I cried at least three times. Maybe more. Sometimes I was so engrossed with the story that I would realize that I had been crying and didn’t know when the tears started.
Kristin Hannah delves deep. She gets people. She gets human emotions and is not afraid to show a character’s ugly side in a very real way. Not only does she expertly show these faults, but she is able to embrace them and makes these downfalls and dark thoughts normal and human. I love that.
In Home Front, Hannah faces the less talked about part of marriage head on. It isn’t uncommon for people who have been married for years to become strangers that share children and a home.
She shows how married couples with children, can, over the years, lose their “couple-ness” and take one another for granted, and in the process lose their passion that was the reason they got married in the first place.
The Human Condition
The children in this story charmed me. Ms. Hannah does an extraordinary job of seeing the war from the children’s point of view. Their reactions made this story real to me.
I am a teacher by trade and am always interested in the difference between what emotion a child portrays and how they really feel. Sometimes it is hard to see past the surface.
Now, as a new mother, I am obsessed with making sure I know my child and how he is feeling, regardless of the front he may put on for me. I have to see past the surface. Hannah showed these children as children sometimes are, warts and all.
Betsy, a twelve year old middle schooler, is more interested in what other kids think of her than how she treats the people who love her. Easily embarrassed by her parents, she can sometimes be pretty rotten to both of them.
Lulu is four and doesn’t quite understand what is happening in her family. She is adorable, asks a million questions, sometimes the same one over and over, probably hoping for a more agreeable answer.
Michael, Jolene’s husband, has lost his father before the story started, and has thrown himself into his work to try to handle his grief. I really did not like this man when I first read about him.
I thought Jolene and the kids would be better off without him as he was barely present and available to them anyway. However, he grew on me as the story continued and I thought better of my original instinct to vote him off the island.
Allllll The Emotions
Consequently, many of our high school students can relate to the family issues in this novel. We, as adults, know that not everyone grows up in a happy home, but not every teenager knows it. It is imperative for our kids to read about families just like theirs to know they are not alone.
I have never been in the military or to war. I have never flown a Black Hawk helicopter, but I feel like I just spent the last three days with someone that did. Of course, I couldn’t tell you how factual it was, but it sure felt real to me.
I have so much pride in our men and women in the military and a compassion for their transitions back home after war. I am also in awe of women, mothers specifically, in the military. Leaving one’s children to defend this country is THE greatest sacrifice.
Jolene, the book’s protagonist, is a true hero. She tries to do right by her country, her fellow soldiers, her children, and her husband. I really fell in love with her and, with all her faults, was a little jealous of her outlook on life and her focus.
Check out this recent interview with Kristin Hannah below:
Who this book is for: Older students and adults who love a compelling family drama. Some mature content and language, so possibly not for freshmen and sophomores.
My recommendations: I highly recommend Home Front to readers who love strong, well-developed character drama set in real life situations. Loved this book.
Take a look at this article from ‘Today’ about Kristin Hannah.
Purchase a copy of Home Front here.
If you are looking for more independent reading choices for high school seniors, check out my post here.
Check out the lesson planning template that I use for creating and organizing my lessons here!