Author: Karen Schreck
Published: May 1st 2012 by Sourcebooks Fire

I tried to like this book. But in the end, we didn’t get along.

I don’t have a huge expectations with While He Was Away, I just wanted a light read, maybe some drama, or romance. So I decide to read this one last night. But for something that is short, I noticed that it was taking me a while to get there. Until I realized I will never get to my desired endpoint. The reality is the book and I have different destination.

I ‘get’ the story but I failed to connect to everything there was to connect. The story? the characters? the romance? Nothing, as in nada, zilch, zero. And it wasn’t that it was terrible because definitely it was not. The book was so plain to me. This is a story of two lovers who were separated, I was kinda assumed that it will give me something in an emotional level but the plainness of the story left me detached.

Just like what the title implied, the story is about Penna while her boyfriend was away. David enlisted himself to military and was sent off to Middle East to do his duty. Penna left with her missing him and was struggling to keep their communication intact. But it was getting harder as time went by. Penna also tried to know more about Justine, who also had the same experience as her.

There are a lot of characters in this book; I don’t know which ones are which. There’s David her boyfriend. Linda who I assumed was her mother (I don’t understand why she called her by her first name, but admittedly I sort of skimmed a few pages so I might miss that detail). Ravi, David’s friend who has problem of his own, about his future, him going back to school, work and family related (which I originally thought will end falling in love with Penna . Since one of David’s email to her has a slight indication of jealousy? and wanted to know how they interacted). Then there are Jules Caitlin, Zach, Tom, Justine and maybe some more. For me it’s a lot to take in. I felt that the book was trying to send me some message here, that perhaps each one of them represents something important with the story—to Penna. I just don’t know what it was. If there were really was. Only when I read some tips at the end of the book that having friends (who understand your situation) to keep you company is essential.

Now that I mentioned about the tips. That’s the only interesting thing I find in the book. Penna and how she dealt with the separation was little impassive to me that I didn’t feel the weight of her feelings—for him and her constant thoughts of his safety. I don’t think I have to experience it just to have an emotional connection, there are books that led me to tears and I haven’t experience the actual thing.

The ending will leave you confused and hanging. I felt there’s room for more but at the same time I’m grateful because I’m tired, and not in the mood to go on because like I said we have different goals. Maybe readers like Penna (army girlfriend) will like this more than I did. Let me repeat it: it wasn’t a bad book; I apologize for throwing some cliché here but let’s just say we’re just too different. 😉