Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Goodreads link---> While He Was Away by Karen Schreck
Some books just knock me right upside the head and leave me thinking about them for days after. While He Was Away was one of those books!
Penna and David have been dating for almost a year before David has to go away to Iraq. As Penna tries to not fall to pieces, she's now faced with what seems like a giant void. The long summer days stretch out before her to what seems like eternity, and nothing feels like it has any meaning with David gone. But slowly, Penna starts to pick up the pieces of her life again, and she takes heart in making new friends and soldiering on as best she can-- no matter what life throws at her.
Before I started reading this one-- I won't lie-- I was a little hesitant. I'm not one of those people who likes reading super-tragic, sad books with depressing endings that make me cry my eyes out, and I thought this story might go in that direction. On top of that, I've never known anyone close who has gone to Iraq, or even been in the military for that matter, so reading this kind of a book was a totally new experience for me and I wasn't sure how I was going to react to it.
Even though this was an everyday story about very average people, While He Was Away managed to pull me into a powerful tale of love and war. As I started reading, I was a little worried that the whole book was going to be a sob-fest with Penna pining away and obsessing over David, but then the more I thought about it, the more I realized that in the same situation? I'd be reacting in the same way-- seeing and hearing David in everything, and remembering all the times before he left. And as Penna learns to cope with her boyfriend going off to Iraq, she learns things and changes in ways that she could never have anticipated. She grows into a stronger, more resilient person in the face of a near-impossible situation. You will love Penna and feel the excruciating pain that she has to go through every single day as she waits for her David to come back home, but you'll also be encouraged by her willingness to not crumble, getting on with life as life goes on with or without her.
Another major concern of mine while I was reading this book was whether it would have a happy ending or not. Well, I'm not going to give much away for those who haven't read the book yet, but I will say that this story was very much like real life-- the point wasn't about having a happy or sad ending. Rather, the story really tried to show how the experiences we have and the people we meet shape us, for good or bad, and how all we can do is survive and try to make the best of things. I don't think this was depressing, it was just very realistic. And while the ending was bittersweet, I wouldn't say it was sad. I did cry, but it was more because I felt so touched by a story that was both simple and yet extremely powerful at the same time.
The only other thing I'll say is-- I really, really hope there is going to be a sequel to this one! As much as the end of the book made sense, I really want to see what happens next in Penna's life!
In the end, I think that While He Was Away accomplished exactly what it set out to do: tell a real-life story of love and war and the people who are most deeply affected by both. And something about this book definitely affected me personally, because it was raw and real, and it didn't try too hard to make an impression or be overly-dramatic. Honestly, it didn't have to-- the story was just that good, and the characters were just that relatable. I would recommend this book to all my readers, because it was realistic, genuine and heartfelt with a wonderful message that can't help but encourage and inspire you. And really, that's about everything I could ask for in a book!
This cover is just so sweet and romantic! And especially knowing what this book is about, I mean it's just like, bring on the water-works! I love the picture of Penna and David together, they just look so sweet and innocent, and the pinky-peach sunset glow behind them makes the entire scene look very ideal and romantic. It's like a moment captured in time that you can always look back on. Definitely a fan of this cover!
So I hope you guys enjoyed this video review and review post on While He Was Away-- stay tuned TOMORROW when I'll be posting a special GUEST POST by author Karen Schreck AND a fabulous GIVEAWAY for a copy of this amazing summer read!! Talk to you guys soon and Happy Reading!!