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You Know When The Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon

You Know When The Men Are Gone is the debut short story collection by Siobhan Fallon.  Fallon writes from experience as she is the wife of a military serviceman, and the family was once stationed at Fort Hood where these stories are set.  This collection was also among the five finalists for the One Book One Community 2015 title selection; local readers were voting on their choice for the selection throughout the month of August, and the winner will be announced in October, while the reading (of the selection) will take place in February.  I don't normally read the OBOC selection (sorry not sorry); in the past there have been a couple titles that I had already read (years) prior to their selection as the campaign book.

This is a collection of loosely interconnected short stories populated by the soldiers and their spouses stationed at Fort Hood.  Each story focuses on the lives and perspectives of different characters, such as the deployed soldiers in country, the returned soldiers struggling to re-integrate into civilian life or the spouses left behind to worry about the safety and well being of their deployed husbands while they struggle to hold together their families on the home front.  The characters are bound together by the cavalry regiment to which they (or their spouses) are assigned.

I'm not normally a fan of short stories (they're too short and at the end you're like, wait, what was the point?), but something about this particular collection grabbed me.  The stories go by fast, and I think they benefit from the interconnectedness of the characters--for example, characters from one story might pop up in another story.  Each story is in itself heartbreaking, sad, and heavy with the struggles, fears and worries of its characters.  You can easily read through this short story collection in a day because it's hard to put down, the stories are compelling and it is an easy read.  I recommend that you pick it up the next time you visit the library.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


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