I did receive this book complimentary for the review, and these thoughts are my own.
I has taken me a good four months to finish Blue Stars by Emily Gray Tedrowe.
To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this book. It took me awhile to get into the plot-line, and honestly I only kept reading to see what happened to the men. I was frustrated about the characterization of the women. It was like the author portrayed two extremes of military family members: those that don’t agree with the war and a wife who cheats on her soldier. I think that is a stereotype along with just being married to get the benefits.
There were parts that I appreciated and felt that were spot on though. She described that it was hard to fight or be upset in general when the soldier was overseas because you didn’t want to distract them from their mission. It can be really hard to not show your emotions to the one person you want to show emotions to.
I would also have to agree that there can be a lot of red-tape when you are dealing with any type of paperwork in the military. The author did a good job of detailing some of the issues with having to go back and forth to several different offices for stamps of approval only to get a small thing lost to start over again. This very thing cost Tom a promotion once.
I did like that they highlighted more of the anguish and the anxiety that is felt on the homefront by the families. There is a lot of attention on the soldier, as there should be, but there is also a lot of confusion and anxiety with the responsibilities of being the one who stays behind. And while I think we all feel some animosity towards the politics of the war, I felt like there was too much focus on this instead of the steadfast support.
I guess what threw me off really was the cheating part, and it was hard for me to swallow the rest of the book. I felt like there weren’t any “normal” families represented. Normal is the only term I could think of, but I felt like both of these families were not representative of a majority of the population you see in the military world. I feel like it didn’t highlight the strength of having to deal with the every day as much as I would have liked. I felt like it definitely highlighted a more sympathetic and “woe is me” vibe. And without giving too much away, you see these women struggle and their response I don’t feel is indicative to most families. I feel like they both gave up, where I saw countless families doing amazing things and standing strong with the uncertainty that comes with war. I feel that these women were polarized in their stances, and we are not seeing any of the middle ground individuals where I would say most of us families lie. Again, I may have just grasped onto the cheating aspect and had a hard time moving past that.
So all in all I was 50/50 about the book. There were pages I was saying “Amen sister friend” in my head, and other thinking “it’s not really like that for most of us. ” But then again we all have our own experiences, so maybe I am wrong about the majority of families. And this was a fictional book, so some of this I take with a grain of salt for sure. There were a lot of rave reviews for it on Goodreads. Many said they couldn’t put it down and had only great things to say about it.
So you may feel differently than I did.
Have you read this book? What did you think?
I was pretty much nodding my head right along with you. It took me a while to get into the book, but then I really wanted to know what happened to everyone. I agree that a lot of what was written about were embarrassing stereotypes (the cheating, the money problems), and that rubbed me the wrong way. But I tried to tell myself that this book wasn’t representing all military families. I did really like the way the women interacted with each other; that felt genuine to me.
I liked the interactions between the women too. I think that is an integral piece of being the one who stays here. You really need that support system, and I appreciated how she showed how much that relationship can mean in this environment.