Monday, May 14, 2012

Book Review: While He Was Away

Author: Karen Schreck
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

"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?

This book cover took me back to high school. We all had a guy or girl that we remember hugging and kissing that way. It felt like such a rush to show affection in public too! This cover has the perfect shades of pink and tan to compliment the two characters on the front. I loved the guy’s rough exterior look with his tan skin and holes in his jeans. I knew he may be a little bit of a rebel when I saw the bike. The girl actually reminded me of myself. She looks to be so in love with him and that is a great start to any book!

I was not able to do a video review for this book (I have so much to do today), which makes me sad because I did have a lot to say about it, starting with the two main characters, David and Penna. I immediately connected with David because that is my boyfriend’s name. I was pleased when Penna started using expressions like, “My David!” I also connected with that longing feeling that Penna expressed after David left. Many girls, like Penna and myself, have experienced those relationships where you are not quite as mature and ready to handle a long distance and very serious relationship as you think you are. I think that many young girls could connect to this book for that simple reason.

However, I was not pleased with the character depth in this book. I did enjoy the book, but I cannot say that it would be something that I would pick up again. Penna lacked so much depth and expression. I really wanted her to develop as a character. She never really did. I did like the fact that she did not let David’s deployment define her, but I just wish she was more courageous and outgoing. I wanted her to change and become more of a strong woman after David left. I wanted her to try new things and have new experiences. Now do not get me wrong, to a certain extent she did branch out a little more, but I just wanted her to be more positive about David and a safe return for him, I guess. When I first read the title of the book I thought that there would be an amazing conflict concerning something extraordinary she had done while David was away.

I was disappointed in the story line, or what was happening while David was in Iraq. Penna goes on a quest for her grandmother, Justine and while that was intriguing I wish there had been a little more mystery to it. It all just felt so cut and dry. However, I did appreciate the relationship that she developed among her friends during the book. I think that was probably my favorite part to read about. I believe that everyone needs a few good friends to help them through life’s ups and downs.

The last thing that did upset me about the book was Penna’s love for art. In the same aspect that I was talking about earlier, I just wish she would have channeled some of her emotions for David into her art. From what I read she was an amazing artist, but after David left she almost completely gave up on her passion for it. I wanted her to pursue things that made her feel happiness and passion while he was away, but instead she turned away from those things.

Lastly, I would recommend the book to anyone who has experienced an adolescent “love” or at least know the feelings that come with it. The butterflies and the jitters every time your cell phone lights up because you want it so badly to be your love calling. I do suggest that you read it; you all may see something completely different within its pages than I did. Happy Monday! Talk to you all soon :)


  1. This sounds like a nice book. I like the nostalgic feeling of young love in books. Great review!

  2. I love the cover, sad that it was disappointing though hope your week started off good!!

  3. Very nice review! I'm looking forward to reading this book, and your opinions are very insightful. (:

  4. I love the cover, and have heard mixed reviews about the story. Like you said, maybe i'll find something interesting within the pages.

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