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Review: While He Was Away by Karen Schreck

While He Was Away by Karen Schreck
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (May 1st, 2012)
Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback: 256 pages
Source: eGalley from Publisher
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
"This is just something I have to do, okay?" I hear David say."The right thing."

He cradles my face in his hands. He kisses me hard. Then he lets go of me. His eyes dart from me to whatever's next.

All she wants is for him to stay. She's been doing pretty well, pretending he doesn't have to go. But one day, after one last night to remember, she wakes up and there's no denying it anymore. He's gone.

When Penna Weaver's boyfriend goes off to Iraq, she's left facing life without him. As summer sets in, Penna tries to distract herself with work and her art, but the not knowing is slowly driving her crazy. Especially when David stops writing.

She knows in her heart he will come home. But will he be the same boy she fell in love with?


I had been wanting to read this book since I checked out the summary on goodreads. I'm a sucker for a good love story and I've been very interested in all the army-related books coming out lately. While He Was Away involves Penna, a young girl dealing with her boyfriend David getting ready to go into the military.

I loved the beginning of the book where we really get a good idea of Penna and David's intense relationship. It's obvious that they care deeply about one another and are hurting from the idea of being apart. I gotta say, after David leaves the book took a lot of turns I didn't expect. Maybe it was the summary that threw me off but I thought this would be about Penna changing while David was gone and not feeling as connected to him, or David dealing with issues while he was away. Or, even Penna finding someone else she was interested in while he was gone. It wasn't really any of those things.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad book at all, and I do think it accurately portrays the emotions of a teenage girl missing her boyfriend who is overseas, but it just may not be the book people expect. To me, this was more about Penna's journey to find her grandmother, deal with being alone, handle her mother, and learn how to be more self-sufficient. Those issues seem to be much more important to the story, rather than anything about David's feelings about being away.

Penna was a good character and I admired her courage. Even though she was young, she did everything she could to keep in touch with David and let him know how much he meant to her. One bonus was Ravi. He was an old friend of David's and he is dealing with is own issues. I admit, I thought he would be playing a much bigger role in this book. He was an interesting character and I liked his interactions with Penna.

I could have handled the overall plot of the book just fine; however, the ending threw me off. I didn't expect it to be like that and I guess it didn't really make sense to me. I didn't see it coming, which was good, but it just seemed abrupt. This made it maybe a 3.5 rating for me but I went up to a 4 just because I did really enjoy Karen's writing style and realistic portrayal of a young couple dealing with being apart.
Recommended: Contemporary fans looking for a book with some deeper aspects.

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