If you talk war politics but have never been to war, you'll want The Things They Carried to put a soul inside the soldier's uniform. If you talk war politics and you've never sent a soulmate, a lover, to war, you'll want Homefront to get a glimpse behind the yellow-ribbon stereotype portrayed in the news.
Without these insights, when you talk war politics, the soldiers are little more than RISK game pieces, their loved ones little more than people standing by, waiting with missing and worry, yet "stoic."
It's possible to imagine any number of things not personally experienced, even if the imagination doesn't quite capture the reality: the death of a parent, losing a friend or a spouse in a car accident, being injured, yourself. These are all fairly universal events that, absent a long-term disease, happen suddenly.
But the experience of spending a year or more with daily anxiety (that's not an exaggeration) that the person you love most in the world could be killed that day, that minute, is a mystery to most. What's it like to be afraid to argue - the way people do when in a "normal" relationship - because that argument could be the last thing either of you do before the one overseas is killed?
Homefront's Mia Sharpe is an ex-English professor, a small-town taxi driver whose boyfriend, Jake, deploys to Iraq in 2003. Neither pro- nor anti-war, Homefront follows Mia through the anxious, dread-filled experience of wondering every moment if that will be the moment she learns Jake has died. Readers feel, through Mia, the effects of a sensationalist media, the political awkwardness strangling the country over this particular war, and an intense desire to be alone that is thwarted by an alcoholic and charming Vietnam veteran and a seasoned, lonely Army wife forcibly inserting themselves into Mia's life. Readers, through Mia, are offered a raw glimpse behind the yellow ribbon as Mia struggles to maintain the appearance of a normal life at a time when, in truth, there is no such thing as "normal."
Semi-autobiographical, Homefront is not a military novel, but a story of unlikely friendships, perseverance, and self-reliance. Like The Things They Carried, Homefront explores the darker truths, the complex psychology, and even the unexpected humor and beauty of one of life's most uncertain moments that is experienced by citizens of every country.
Soldier stories abound, but this story, that of those plagued by an ever-present combination of anxiety, hope, hopelessness, dread, and a unique spectrum of heightened and passionate emotions, hasn’t been told with the rawness and intimacy it warrants - until Homefront.
"I'm not usually picky about book covers, but I have to admit that this one was off-putting. After 'Homefront' arrived in the mail I put it aside easily for a while because the cover actually made me not want to read it...Once I picked it up, I didn't want to put it down. This is an amazing book." - Heather J., Age 30+...A Lifetime of Books
"Tsetsi convincingly demonstrates that a daily battle is being waged by those who wait for their soldiers to return, and the enemy is within. Homefront reads like a long-form haiku written by Charles Bukowski in collaboration with Ann Beattie; almost every paragraph is a stand-alone gem of insight and observation. After reading Homefront, you will see a much more complex story behind the stock news footage of the families who worry, wait, and grieve." - Rick Shefchik, journalist, award-winning columnist, and author of Amen Corner
"One of the most moving and evocative portraits of people left at home while theirs spouses fight overseas...When you use the word 'spare' to talk about prose, it sometimes sounds like a pejorative, as does the word 'minimalist.' It implies possibly that the writer didn’t take the time. But here you get the sense that Tsetsi’s been careful with every word and no sentence has been wasted. A great novel." -- SPR
"Soulful. Seductive." - Josip Novakovich
"I loved Jake as a character, and I loved Mia." - Carolyn See
"Beautiful and stark. It seems like there has been a real lack of narratives out there about the experiences of those who love those in the military, especially this time around...Reading Homefront will give you such insight into the daily battles at home caused by this messy war..." - feministing.com
The old: Homefront was added to the inventory of an independent bookstore in Nashville, TN (Davis-Kidd booksellers). I think this is outstanding and very "old school." It makes me think of "You've Got Mail," and the interest non-chain bookstores have in books they like and buy based on content, rather than on marketing.
The new: Homefront is also now available on Kindle (as well as regular Amazon), the absolute opposite of the old-school, privately-owned bookstore. But, it's also fun. I probably won't ever get a Kindle because I enjoy picking up books, flipping pages, folding corners, etc., but for those who are into it, I think it's pretty neat that you can carry around hundreds of books in a literary iPod.
These wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the politics surrounding them, and the effects of the war and the politics on those involved, are all defining aspects of this time we're living in. You can't get closer to knowing what it's like to have a loved one at war than to experience it personally - or to experience it by reading Homefront. And you can't talk about war responsibly until you are able to feel - not "yeah, yeah, they're people, I feel for them, really," but FEEL, experience - the war on a more personal and profound level.
I invite you to do that.
"As a soldier, and as an Army Veteran who served in Afghanistan shortly after 9/11, it's easy to see the complete relevance this book has in accurately depicting the many emotions that those on the home front experience day-in and day-out. The wide range of emotions is captured beautifully and make Homefront a true masterpiece that I hope many will read, and enjoy. Even still, to say that it is only limited to military and military supporters back home would be quite unfair. Its story, and message, is one that a great percentage of the American Population (at the very least), SHOULD read and try their hardest to understand." - Howard C. Romans III
"Occasionally, a book comes along that you know you will want to share before you've finished the read. Homefront is such a book. Drawn in from page one, I stayed mesmerized, needing to know how Mia survives her own emotional battles after Jake (her boyfriend) leaves for Iraq. The author has given us a character full of depth; opening her life, sharing her fears, and making us care. And in the end, allowed me some small bit of insight in to what my mother must have faced when my dad was off at war." - John McDonald, Waxahachie, TX
"Kristen Tsetsi's novel is, excuse the gushes, fresh, involving, honest, dark, and very real. Her writing is often simple, unapologetic, and unadorned with fancy descriptions. However, at the same time, it exemplifies the old standard that a writer is an observer of human condition and action, in its attention to the detail of its characters' behaviors. The flick of the wrist to tap away the cigarette ash, the smudge of lipstick in the corner of the mouth... the little things that make life real. The anger, despair, confusion, and desperate hope of its distinct characters are so clear that you'll want to meet them and wonder if you haven't already. Homefront is that rare book that combines the page-turning urge with the ability to make you think. " Mark Goldman, NC
Causes Kristen Tsetsi Supports
Planned Parenthood, SPCA, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America