While He Was Away by Karen Schreck

Jul 31, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pub. Date: May 1, 2012
ISBN: 9781402264023
Pages: 294
Source: Library ebook

One year--he'll be gone for one year and then we'll be together again and everything will be back to the way it should be.

The day David left, I felt like my heart was breaking. Sure, any long-distance relationship is tough, but David was going to war--to fight, to protect, to put his life in danger. We can get through this, though. We'll talk, we'll email, we won't let anything come between us.

I can be on army girlfriend for one year. But will my sweet, soulful, funny David be the same person when he comes home? Will I? And what if he doesn't come home at all...?
WHILE HE WAS AWAY is a contemporary story about love and hope. It is not the story I thought it would be though. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect from this book, but what I got was far from what I had hoped to get.

Karen Schreck is one of the many authors that have tackled a book involving the Iraq war and the separation of couples. I have not read any other young adult books about this topic, so I can't compare her story to others. Even so, I think that as a standalone it could have been much better. The plot was slow through most of the story and I continually found myself skimming and skipping pages at a time. For being just short of 300 pages it could have and should have been a fast pace read.

I wanted to get more out of this than I actually got. I wanted to really feel the love, the separation, the desperation, and every other emotion I was supposed to feel. I honestly did not feel much for the characters or their story. Part of it was that I was drifting off during the book and part of it was the characters.

When you read any book you are supposed to have a connection with the main character. I completely lacked a connection with Penna and all of the other characters in the story. Was it lack of characterization? Was it lack of interest in the story? Was this story and its characters just not for me? Any one of those is a possibility, but it's most likely a little of all of them too. I think that there should have been more of an introduction to Penna, David, and their relationship. It was barely discussed in the beginning and the flashbacks were just not enough. When it comes down to it I think that is what really set this story back, the main relationship was not handled well.

Trying not to give too much away, I must briefly talk about the ending. I did not like it. It almost felt like a cop out.

Overall I didn't expect much from this book, and I got less than even that. I think some people would enjoy this story, but for me it lacked so much. If it sounds like something you would enjoy go for it, but if you're mildly interested like I was you may want to skip it.

Rating: 3 stars / 5 stars


  1. Sorry you were disappointed by this one. It's always a shame when you can't connect to the characters, and to have a bad ending on top of that just makes it worse. Not sure if I'll be reading this one because I don't think I could like a book where I don't really feel for the characters. Thanks for the great review :).

  2. I'm disappointed this isn't as good as you were hoping. I saw the blurb for this book and had high hopes, but I think I might push it down on my TBR list.


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