23 October 2012

REVIEW: While He Was Away by Karen Schreck

While He Was Away by Karen Schreck
Published: May 1st, 2012
Acquired: For Review
Format: ARC Paperback
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Rating:  ½
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One year--he'll be gone for one year and then we'll be together again and everything will be back to the way it should be.

The day David left, I felt like my heart was breaking. Sure, any long-distance relationship is tough, but David was going to war--to fight, to protect, to put his life in danger. We can get through this, though. We'll talk, we'll email, we won't let anything come between us.

I can be on army girlfriend for one year. But will my sweet, soulful, funny David be the same person when he comes home? Will I? And what if he doesn't come home at all...?

My thoughts:
I love a good contemporary and this book was no different.
When we first enter the book Penelope--Penna for short--is riding around Killdeer with her boyfriend David the night before he leaves for Iraq the next day.
Right away you get a feel for their love and how much they actually care about each other and just how difficult his departure will be--for both of them. Before he leaves, Penna insists on getting matching tattoos on their right ring finger, a simple braid. To signify their lives being forever intertwined.
With David being gone (for at least a year) and still a few months ahead before school resumes, Penna is left with nothing but plenty of time to wallow, worry and just be a girlfriend of a soldier. Until her mother, Linda, decides that she won't sit and watch her daughter's state of depression; she tells her she's coming to work at the restaurant, Red Earth to save money for college and keep her mind busy.
Penna's first day is horrible and she can barely keep up. But as time passes (weeks) she begins to get the hang of it. Along the way she becomes friends with Caitlyn and her friend Jules and with the help of David's mother, Penna begins to talk to Ravi--one of David's old best friends. It seems like this may be enough. With the little contact she has with David she pushes through.
But she just can't seem to stay busy enough. So she decides to find her grandmother who Linda has kept hush-hush about for too long.
Though this book is short, at times it did drag a tiny bit, I felt like she was forgetting David and that she may be lost in what she wants. But then she'd mentioned how much she loves him, misses him, etc. and how much seeing his parents affected her and then I'd remember she wasn't actually forgetting, she was just trying hard not to remember.
Though the beginning did seem a bit dramatic, I understood her pain. Someone you love desperately, really love for the first time isn't just leaving, they're going into a war. She remained strong most of the time, keeping herself very busy (and honestly I don't think she or her mother, Linda slept enough, I was quite concerned about this, lol). Her relationships with her mother and Ravi were inspiring in a way that made me want to hug my mom and go find someone who just needed a shoulder or a friend. I wanted to be there for Penna but above all, I wanted to be there for David.

I was not surprised by the very open-ended ending, but it left enough for the imagination. There was just enough to let you know that Penna was okay, but not enough to tell you if she was really okay. (ya know what I mean?) There will be a sequel to this book though! I would love whatever to happen. I just want more! I'll definitely be reading more from Schreck.
And if you want, you can read the 1st chapter of While He Was Away HERE!

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