Sunday, July 18, 2010

Book Review: A Year of Absence

This posting requires a bit of a prologue.  Last year, my husband and I candidated to be missionaries with Cadence International, a non-denominational organization that supports and ministers to our men and women in uniform serving overseas.  Upon my arrival, this powerful little book was given to me in the hopes that it would better equip me to minister to the wives enduring separation from their husbands during deployment.

As it turns out, we were not invited to join Cadence's ministry at this time; they wanted us to heal from old wounds and mature as a family first.  However, God began to make it all too clear that He still wanted us (or more pointedly, my husband) in direct ministry to the military.  As he drew near to completing his application process to join the Navy Chaplain Corps, I found my eyesdrawn to this title (which had been sitting on my bookshelf for nearly a year).  It suddenly hit me that God may want me to read it for a much more personal reason.

In A Year of Absence, Jessica Redmond diligently and compassionately compiles the stories of six women enduring 15 months of deployment as their husbands held the front in Iraq in 2003.  From the young officer's bride to the seasoned wife of the NCO, the women Redmond captures in ink encompass a broad spectrum of life stages and backgrounds as they support each other in the close-knit Army community of Baumholder, Germany.

At first I was a little thrown by the chronological telling of the major events in these courageous women's lives; six stories can be a tad difficult to follow when broken up so frequently.  However, the raw retelling of their deepest heartaches and fears grabbed me by the throat and simply wouldn't let me go.  I held my breath as Jen desperately tried to align help to take care of her daughter before she underwent invasive surgery.  I sobbed with Teresa when her dearest friend received a knock from "two class-A uniforms" just three months before their husbands were due to come home.  I fretted with Katrina over how the separation would affect her very young children -- would they remember their father?  Would they receive his homecoming well?

Redmond's transcription of their thoughts and words is both frank and engaging.  Almost immediately I realized I was getting a glimpse into what could be my own life in the not-too-distant future.  This is definitely a "must-read" for any woman who is either about to enter into the military community or anyone who wants a better understanding of what life is like for military dependents.

Redmond, Jessica (2005).  A Year of Absence: Six women's stories of courage, hope, and love.  Elva Resa Publishing: Saint Paul, MN.

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