blue stars, by Emily Gray Tedrowe
Blue Stars: A Novel brings to life the realities of the modern day home front: how to get through the daily challenges of motherhood and holding down a job while bearing the stress and uncertainty of war, when everything can change in an instant. It tells the story of Ellen, a Midwestern literature professor, who is drawn into the war when her legal ward Michael enlists as a Marine; and of Lacey, a proud Army wife who struggles to pay the bills and keep things going for her son while her husband is deployed. Ellen and Lacey cope with the fear and stress of a loved one at war while trying to get by in a society that often ignores or misunderstands what war means to women today. When Michael and Eddie are injured in Iraq, Ellen and Lacey’s lives become intertwined in Walter Reed Army Hospital, where each woman must live while caring for her wounded soldier. They form an alliance, and an unlikely friendship, while helping each other survive the dislocated world of the army hospital. Whether that means fighting for proper care for their men, sharing a six-pack, or coping with irrevocable loss, Ellen and Lacey pool their strengths to make it through. In the end, both women are changed, not only by the war and its fallout, but by each other.
I feel like there is a part of me that still hasn’t decided how I feel about this book. I wanted to love every single page of it, but I had a difficult time really investing myself in this book. Knowing many of these amazing families (families of wounded) myself I was really hoping to see a more accurate description of their lives. I’m not sure if it was the hyper-political feelings that came through in the book or the fact that while I am sure there are family members that are very similiar to the characters in the book, I felt like these were an extreme portrayal with very stereotypical and somewhat negative personality traits. Having never been through the experiences myself, I guess I can’t actually say for certain. The meat of the book was really those pages inspired by the controversy at Walter Reed in the mid-2000s. That part of the book was very well portrayed, but I felt it got lost. I just wasn’t quite sure how I felt about this book, mostly because I think I had such high hopes for it. While the author herself isn’t a military spouse, she is the sister of Marine. I had no inkling that the novel would be discussing injury either, it took awhile to figure out the direction of it. I had never read a novel about military life, that wasn’t a romance before, so perhaps maybe I was excited to see a part of my life come out from the pages of this book.
I give this book 2.5 out of 5 stars.
**I received an Advance Reader’s copy of this book. I was not compensated in any other way; and as always my thoughts and my opinions are my own.