rating: 5 of 5 stars
You all know how I feel about memoirs: don’t trust ’em. Not my fault, I’ve been hurt before. BUT, I found this book absolutely charming, brutally honest (sometimes more than I think I needed to know) and very entertaining. It starts off strong, giving you a picture of the “perfect” Army Wife and then Burana tells you she is not that woman. Usually, the best compliment I can give to a memoir is that it “reads like fiction”. This, to me, means that it isn’t slow or overly detailed or dry like some memoirs, but is fast paced with snappy dialogue like the best fiction books. This book is fast paced with snappy dialogue, but you never get the feeling that it isn’t real. There is always something there, lingering in the background, that tethers you to the reality that this is someone’s life.
The Iraq War looms large over this book. First in anticipation of Major Mike going, then while he is gone, and then when he comes back. Burana was mostly very respectful of the Army, both as an institution and the political leadership thereof, so if you’re looking for a book that bad talks the military, or something along those lines, best to move along. It doesn’t happen here. What you get here is a wonderful insight into her life as an Officer’s wife, and the adjustments she had to make. The chapters on West Point were fascinating and informative, but there was also plenty of humor to be found in the book. I’d always wondered what real Army wives think of the show Army Wives for instance. (She is an addict. Like me.) And calling the military “Uncle Sugar” cracks me up for a reason I still cannot identify.
One of my favorite parts came near the end where Burana, sick about the atrocities at Abu Ghraib, came face to face with Donald Rumsfeld at the Army-Navy football game.
“Shifting back and forth, I weighed the possible outcome of saying something to her husband, and no matter how angry I was over the hell that Rumsfeld and his crw had wrought, all I could envision were my words casting a long, dark shadow over my husband. For all my fury and indignation I would not win this war with a personal attack, and by Rumsfeld on the spot, I would be serving no one but myself. What he did to our contry might be unforgiveable, but so, too, would be turning a football game into my own personal bully pulpit. My husband committed to a vocation of selfless service and sacrifice. I would match his sacrifice with discretion. For the first time in my loudmouth life, I chose impassioned silence.”
I’m glad she chose to break that silence to write this book. Very well done.