When She Came Home. Drusilla Campbell. Grand Central Publishing. April 2013. 336 pp. pbk. ISBN #: 9781455510351.
Frankie Byrne Tennyson is the daughter of a retired Marine Brigadier General and her life as well as the General’s wife have been all-military. There’s no room for weakness and Frankie is out for a challenge from family and her husband when she is so stunned by 911 and the death of children on the planes that were attacked that she decides to enlist to do battle in Afghanistan or wherever required. Her father, however, makes sure she is not put in harm’s way after her initial training. Later however she signs up for another tour and does get to serve in Iraq, even if her job is only to create a new school rather than do battle. But she is witness to unspeakable things which will later come up in as certain facts and issues come to the public light.
When Frankie returns, she’s definitely not the same person she was, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and that her going and returning have also seriously affected her daughter, Glory. The latter has questions galore, none of which Frankie wants to answer as she is definitely in need of professional help herself. But the General’s family have been well-trained as “perfect” Marines. That basically means that psychological help is off limits as it would, if exposed, put an indelible mark on one’s career chart and worse than that display an inability to cope.
The father’s secret is, however, that at one time he was coping no better than his daughter. All of these characters must move through their days displaying more and more dysfunction until there will be no denial of the need for help. It’s either that or someone will be bearing the brunt of the unconscious raging and invisible battle wounds everyone is denying.
This is such a timely issue that must not be covered over or denied, and Drusilla Campbell handles the problem with all its nuances and direct consequences with aplomb and admirable grace. Rather than the expected maudlin quality, Frankie and her family are the epitome of what thousands of individuals and families are experiencing after returning from one or several tours of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan. Kudos to you Ms. Campbell for writing a realistic novel about what unfortunately is today not one iota of fiction! While it may gloss the surface of the issue, it’s definitely worth the read!