While He Was Away

While He Was Away

3.47 (1,693 ratings by Goodreads)
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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...?

"A tender and honest examination of love, longing, and loyalty in the face of modern war."--Laura Ruby, author of Bad Apple

"While He Was Away is a wonderful love story with writing that is skillful and true."--Amy Timberlake, author of That Girl Lucy Moon
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Product details

  • 12-17
  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 140 x 210 x 17.53mm | 259g
  • Naperville, United States
  • English
  • ill
  • 140226402X
  • 9781402264023
  • 659,647

Review quote

"."..once I opened the book, I did not want to put it down." - Brandi" - Blkosiner's Book Blog
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About Karen Schreck

Karen Schreck once had lunch with the Queen of Holland. There were many forks. Perhaps this inspired her (failed) attempt at waitressing. She lives outside Chicago with her husband and two children. Visit karenschreck.com/blog
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Rating details

1,693 ratings
3.47 out of 5 stars
5 28% (473)
4 22% (373)
3 27% (450)
2 16% (266)
1 8% (131)

Our customer reviews

While He Was Away had such a description that instantly stood out to me, and I knew it was one I would want to read once it came out. But I was utterly taken back when I was reading it, because it was so much more moving and striking than I ever thought it would be. Reasons to Read: 1.A sympathetic story: I've never been in either David or Penna's position, so I can't speak for a minute to what they went through as he left for Iraq. I have no idea what that would be like for a couple, but I have to tell you how much my heart bled for the two of them; it was absolute agony as Karen expertly wove her story of David and Penna and their transition to this change. But it was worth it. As Penna questioned the war her boyfriend was fighting in, the nature of love and so much more, I found myself asking the same things along with her. 2.A coming of age story: I really liked that David and Penna were just a bit older than most other YA characters (the story takes place the summer before Penna's senior year begins and just after David has graduated) so they're adults technically, but still very young ones. Penna's struggles with her mother and trying to be supportive for David are perfect indicators of the stage she's at in her own life. I think there's something very endearing about that. 3.A REAL romance story: David and Penna don't live in a fairytale, they live in the real world with very real problems. Their story is one that many couples go through, but isn't as shared as often as it should be. And it's truly heartbreaking to watch it all unfold as you read their story in While He Was Away. All you want is for them to be together, and the aching they feel for each other is so fierce it just radiates off the pages. Yet they are so sweet and caring towards each other, it made my heart melt a little bit for them. THIS is a book couple to root for, and they need that support. My one, tiny, minuscule complaint was that there were times when the plot itself moved along rather slowly. Not too much would be happening, because most of the story revolves around Penna's internal dialogue and personal transformation. Because of that, the story didn't feel as fully fleshed out and revealed as it could have been, which is why I'm hoping to read more about David and Penna to see where they end up (especially with that ending). Just throwing it out there, but I think it would be great to hear some more of their story from David's perspective because I imagine it would be drastically different from Penna's point of view! It's also kind of neat to see the other stories going on as Penna explores life without David, and the other people around her. There's a lot to be told with those stories as well, although I wish a bit more background had been given. This is truly an impeccable story of growing up, and the changes which occur within individuals and in their relationships with those around them. It keeps tugging at your heart, and it just doesn't let go. E-galley received from publisher for blog tour via Net Galley.show more
by Brenna Staats
I LOVE this cover. I think that the colors are beautiful and the couple embracing adds just the right touch for the story. While this story wasn't exactly what I was expecting, it was good. I liked the idea of exploring the ramifications of having a military boyfriend and how that effects you and your life. I also liked the glimpses into what David's life is like in Iraq. It seems really well researched and while I still can't imagine how our soldiers do it, I can relate with the emotions and with the vivid imagery. I think that Penna is a likable character, and I connected with her. I wish that I would have been shown more the relationship and how it built with David, but as is, I can still root for their love story to have a happy ending and understand how their emotions grew. I know that the story is more about him being away, and how he's changing as he's deployed. Ms. Schreck does a good job relaying Penna's emotions and it helps a bit to imagine what the wives and girlfriends are going through. The other secondary characters are well done in my opinion. I liked the mystery that unfolds between Penna's mom Linda and her grandma Justine. I can see Penna's intrigue with why Justine left and feeling that connection since she also had a loved one go to war. She doggedly searches down her grandma and I appreciate how they end up being there for one another. I also appreciated Tom's strength and character. I also wanted more of Ravi. I am not sure how else he could have played into the story except as the supporter and long lost friend that he was, but I appreciated his shyness and his ability to overcome. Somehow though, I wanted this story to be more complete, and if there is a sequel, then that is problem completely solved. I mean, things were wrapped up well enough I suppose, but I wanted more development and to know how my characters fared. That said, the plot is solid, the characters well done, and once I opened the book, I did not want to put it down.show more
by Brandi Kosiner (Brandi Breathes Books)
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