BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bea Reviews The Long Way Home by Jessica Scott

Publisher: Tormia Creatives
Format Read: eGalley
Source: the author in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: March 18, 2013
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords
* affiliate links; the blog receives a small commission from purchases made through these links.

Blurb from goodreads:

My name is Jessica Scott. I am a soldier. I am a mother. I am a wife.

In 2009, Army second lieutenant Jessica Scott deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. She thought deploying was the hardest thing she'd ever do.

She was wrong.

This is the story of a mother coming home from war and learning to be a mom again. This is the story of a lieutenant making the grade and becoming a company commander. This is the journey of a writer persevering through a hundred rejections. This is the story of a soldier learning to be a woman again. This is the story of a wife waiting for the end of a war.

This is the journey as it happened, without commentary.

This is her blog. There are many blogs from the Iraq war, but this one is hers. 

Bea's Thoughts:

I thought I was prepared for this book. I've read her fiction, which draws heavily on her real life experiences but that was just the foundation for her memoir about coming home from work, readjusting to family life and getting her writing career off the ground. Scott is honest, blunt, and fascinating. The format of the book is posts, minus commentary, from her blog during her two years home from a deployment in Iraq.  It may have been my ARC or that  had the PDF she sent me converted to Kindle format, but there were some posts out of order chronologically which made for confusing reading and sentences that go like this would. Still, the format allowed us to follow along her journey and see the changes and it gave the book a more immediate feel.

Scott writes honestly about the choices that she and her husband have made about their family and their respective military careers and the inevitable conflicts between family and work. One decision they made was to be deployed together simultaneously; their daughters lived with Jessica's mother during the double deployment. It was incredibly difficult for all involved but more difficult still was coming home. She had to relearn hot to be a mother and her kids had to learn to trust her again; by her own admission, there was a lot of screaming and crying on both sides for many months after the family reunited. As hard as it was to read at times, I can only imagine how much more difficult it was to live it.

She also talks, discretely, about her work in the Army, her growth as a soldier and commander, and her hopes for her career. These posts tread a line between sharing and over-sharing. As an active duty soldier, she's limited in what she is allowed to share and then on top is her self-imposed filter. And yet, while there were times I wanted to know, I respected her discretion. Even the PBS blog she contributed to didn't get the whole truth as her posts first had to be reviewed by the Army. Despite her restrictions, she writes honestly and poignantly in her blog and the reader gets an up-close and personal look at life in the army today in the US. Whatever you thought you knew about the military, serving in a war or being a soldier, throw them away. Scott shows us the reality and despite her frustrations, her pride in her work and her military service shines through.

We also learn more about her writing during this time frame, her efforts to land an agent, and to sell a book. She mentions several non-romance books she was working on which sound fantastic and I hope we'll see them, or a version of them, some day.

Scott is an eloquent, gutsy writer unafraid to show us her warts and scars. She's poignant, honest, and passionate. I liked her before and respected her as a writer but after reading her story my respect and appreciation know no bounds. Of course, as always she made me cry, but I've learned to stock up on tissue before starting one of her books and the tears were a result of genuine emotion elicited by her words, not manipulated by her.

If you want to know more about Jessica, or life in the Army today, or what it's like to serve, you have to read this book.

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  1. There is a body of work, both fiction and nonfiction, about what it's like for the male soldiers coming home (often with PTSD, TBI, and/or physical injuries.) There's much less about our women soldiers, and what they go through as they adjust to life back at home. This sounds like a powerful, uncomfortable, but also enlightening book.


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