This is such an important topic. Not enough people understand PTSD. Someone very close to me has PTSD and it is grossly misunderstood. It took me several years of knowing this person to begin to fully (as much as a civilian can) grasp that reactions and thought patterns were so embedded thanks to trauma and are not personality flaws. Hoffman writing about PTSD from the POV of a female soldier is even more of a niche that needed filling. I am grateful that she took this topic on.
With that said, I did struggle with this book. I never connected with Lauren. I did not feel for her, even though I know too well how detached and hollow PTSD can make a person. Perhaps I needed more of a background story on her pre-war before I ever met post-war Lauren. I am not quite sure, to be honest. Like Wendy, I was always acutely aware that I was reading a story and I myself felt detached from it rather than in the midst of it. I don't know if this was done deliberately by Hoffman in order to convey how detached those with PTSD feel in their life, or not. I've never read any other work by Hoffman to compare it to.
Now with that said, I thought Hoffman did a great job at introducing the symptoms gradually, yet out of the blue, and sporadically, which shows she really did her research.
I loved the relationship between Lauren and her younger brother Danny. I thought that Hoffman handled the complex emotions of their father well, too. I liked the conclusion to the book. I am not sure I would've been satisfied with any other outcome.
One of my fave quotes happened early on in the book:
"Here's what you were and what you won't be again."
Powerful and emotional statement of where Lauren was at the time, but it is also packed with a hard truth that she is forever changed. How can you not be forever changed by war? The trick is acclimating back into society without feeling like you're still in war. I can't imagine how hard that must be. One thing this book gives you, if nothing else, is an appreciation for what soldiers go through once they are home again.