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While He Was Away

While He Was Away - Karen Halvorsen Schreck I've been flip-flopping on exactly what to say about this book since I read it. There are parts that I absolutely loved. And there are parts (like the end)--not so much.

I loved the cover. A lot of times, the cover doesn't match the book or what I think the couple looks like. This isn't the case with this book. The cover pretty much perfectly captures this couple and the emotions they are going through.

I felt like the Summary was a little misleading though: She knows in her heart he will come home. But will he be the same boy she fell in love with? David is deployed for fifteen months. This book only covers the summer, so we don't know anything about if he comes home the same boy she fell in love with.

Penna's an upcoming high-school senior who loves art. She's also totally in love with her boyfriend, David, who has just deployed to Iraq. He's crazy about her, too. Dealing with the grief of separation from David, Penna spends her time writing him constantly and getting a job at her mother's Bar & Grill. She meets Caitlin, one of the servers there, and Tom, the bartender who's been there forever. She also connects with David's childhood friend, Ravi, and Caitlin's friend who has a boyfriend who has also been deployed.

One day, Penna stumbles across a letter and a photograph of her grandmother, Justine. Since Justine abandoned Penna's mother, Linda, when she was a little girl, Penna has never met her. She decides to find her and that starts her on a journey that ultimately leads to discovering a lot about herself.

What did I like? I liked Penna. I liked her personality and felt like she was authentic. I loved that even though she felt weak, she made herself be strong. I liked her friends, and I really liked Justine and her history. I also liked David.

What wasn't so great for me? Definitely, the end sucked. I felt absolutely no closure at all. What could have been a really good book for me was practically ruined by the ending. I understood what was going on with David and think that lack of communication and security in relationships happens a lot. I don't know what it is with some of the books that I've read recently, but I want them to end up together! I don't think that the only way a girl can prove that she's strong is to not get the HEA. If I wanted to read something sad, I would. I just hope this isn't an emerging trend in YA books. I want romance and swoon.

I also felt like there were parts that were slow and I wanted more to happen. Or for what was going on to seem to mean something. I also did not understand Ravi's presence. Was there supposed to be some kind of spark between them? If so, I didn't see it, and I didn't like it, even if there was just the hint of it.

It's a quick read and definitely great for younger teens and anyone who likes YA Contemporary. Overall, I liked this book. I could have loved it, though.