Published May 1st 2012 by Sourcebooks Fire
“This is just something I have to do, okay?” I hear David say. “The right thing.”
All she wants is for him to stay. She’s been doing pretty well, pretending he doesn’t have to go. But one day, after one last night to remember, she wakes up and there’s no denying it anymore. He’s gone.
When Penna Weaver’s boyfriend goes off to Iraq, she’s left facing life without him. As summer sets in, Penna tries to distract herself with work and her art, but the not knowing is slowly driving her crazy. Especially when David stops writing.
She knows in her heart he will come home. But will he be the same boy she fell in love with?
This book brought on many different emotions. Sadness, pride, love, fear, just to name a few.
I felt sad for Penna. She was losing the one person who kept her stable. The one person that she felt that she could count on. He was leaving and it was very scary for her not knowing when she would see him again.
David was sure that he wanted to serve in the military. He had described it “as the right thing to do.” I was very proud that a young man made such an important decision and still felt that he had to do it. I hear of young men like this every day signing up for the armed forces and it makes me feel very proud to be an american!!!
I also felt pride for Penna being able to stand up to her mother enough to truly find out about her families’ past. I was so proud of her for how she just picked up a relationship with her long-lost grandmother.
David and Penna truly belong together. I really felt the love between them just with the short amount of interaction that they had together.
Geesh, there was so much fear. Fear for David’s life while in Iraq would probably have been the number one reason. I also feared for their relationship. It takes a lot to keep a long distance relationship moving on.
This book is highly suggested for anyone whom has a loved one in the armed forces. There wasn’t really a wrap up ending per say, so I hope there will be a book 2?
“If you love something, let it go…”
Guest Blog Post with Karen Schreck
Stories My Mother Told Me . . . and the Ones She Never Did
I think a lot about family stories, perhaps because I’m an only child, and now that both of my parents are dead—no longer living, I almost wrote, because the other, more naked statement is still sometimes hard for me to write—I feel like I’m the only one left who can and will carry them.
Sometimes the family stories rattle around in my head, demanding attention all at once, and I don’t know where to focus—I guess that can be the effect of remembering. But other times, (especially when I follow the advice that great writer and teacher once gave me, which was: “Write where the pressure is!”) a particular story will rise up above the others and say: “Pick me.”
That’s what happened with While He Was Away.
I got quite and waited until the pressure revealed itself—and it was a story my mother told me in three simple sentences right before she died when I was fourteen.
Her story went like this.
“I was married before I married your father. I was very young. My first husband died in WWII.”
That was it. That was all she would say.
She knew she was dying, and she wanted me to know this truth about herself. For years afterward, no one else said a word about it, and then finally, it was revealed that there was really very little to say—only the classic: “They were childhood sweethearts, deeply in love; it was like a dream”—and then there were a few pictures that a cousin gave me—my mother, young and beautiful, in love with a young and beautiful boy.
When I started thinking about the other young and beautiful boys and girls who were heading off to Iraq to do battle for all kinds of reasons, I found myself thinking again about my mother, the girl, and her boy, and how in some ways, love in wartime is so different now, and in other ways, it isn’t all.