A novel that deals with a number of important social issues, including the actions of private contractors in war, the treatment of women in the armed services, domestic violence and school bullying.
The author transports the reader into the heart, soul and mind of Francine Byrne Tennyson to feel her pain, recall her vivid childhood memories and experience her crises of conscience. It is clear that Frankie’s father, a highly decorated Marine general, expects his son to follow in his footsteps. But when her older brother loses his legs after an auto accident, Francine is determined that she will be the one to make her father proud. She excels in academics as well as athletics and after 9/11 decides to enlist in the Marines herself despite having a baby daughter. Both her husband and her father are unhappy about her decision. For years she performs office work near home but eventually is deployed to Iraq and returns with sufficient fear, anxiety and anger to warrant treatment for PTSD. She avoids treatment for a while as she struggles with the memory of witnessing a private contractor murder a child, a boy about the same age as her own daughter. She blames herself for not somehow preventing it and then struggles with the question of whether or not to testify at a Senate hearing regarding the conduct of the private contractors in Iraq. In the midst of all this, she watches her daughter act out her own anger and frustration at school, where other kids make fun of her, and she attempts to assist another female veteran with a daughter who is homeless and hiding from an abusive ex-husband.
Ultimately, in this heart-wrenching tale, Frankie figures out what she must do to help herself and her family.