Excerpt of Home Front by Kristin Hannah
(Page 2 of 8)
Printer Friendly Excerpt
Her father swayed drunkenly, as if held up by her alone, but that was
impossible. He was a huge man, tall and broad, with hands like turkey
platters; mom was as frail and white as an eggshell. It was from him that
Jolene got her height.
"You can't leave me," her mother sobbed, slurring the words.
Her father looked away. For a split second, Jolene saw the pain in his
eyes pain, and worse, shame and loss and regret.
"I need a drink," he said in a voice roughened by years of smoking
He took her mother's hand, dragged her through the kitchen. Looking
dazed but grinning foolishly, her mother stumbled along behind
him, heedless of the fact that she was barefooted.
It wasn't until he opened the back door that Jolene got it. "No!" she
yelled, scrambling to her feet, running after them.
Outside, the February night was cold and dark. Rain hammered the
roof and ran in rivulets over the edges of the eaves. Her father's leased
logging truck, the only thing he really cared about, sat like some huge
black insect in the driveway. She ran out onto the wooden porch, tripping
over a chainsaw, righting herself.
Her mother paused at the car's open passenger door, looked at her.
Rain plastered the hair across her hollow cheeks, made her mascara
run. She lifted a hand, pale and shaking, and waved.
"Get out of the rain, Karen," her father yelled, and her mother complied
instantly. In a second, both doors slammed shut. The car backed
up, turned onto the road, drove away.
And Jolene was alone again.
Four months, she thought dully. Only four more months and she would
graduate from high school and be able to leave home.
Home. What ever that meant.
But what would she do? Where would she go? There was no money
for college, and what money Jolene saved from work her parents invariably
found and "borrowed." She didn't even have enough for first month's
She didn't know how long she stood there, thinking, worrying, watching
rain turn the driveway to mud; all she really knew was that at some
point she became aware of an impossible, unearthly flash of color in the
Red. The color of blood and fire and loss.
When the police car pulled up into her yard, she wasn't surprised.
What surprised her was how it felt, hearing that her parents were dead.
What surprised her was how hard she cried.
On her forty-first birthday, as on every other day, Jolene
Zarkades woke before the dawn. Careful not to disturb her
sleeping husband, she climbed out of bed, dressed in her running
clothes, pulled her long blond hair into a ponytail, and went outside.
It was a beautiful, blue-skied spring day. The plum trees that lined
her driveway were in full bloom. Tiny pink blossoms floated across the
green, green field. Across the street, the Sound was a deep and vibrant
blue. The soaring, snow-covered Olympic mountains rose majestically
into the sky.
She ran along the beach road for exactly three and a half miles and
then turned for home. By the time she returned to her driveway, she was
red-faced and breathing hard. On her porch, she picked her way past
the mismatched wood and wicker furniture and went into the house,
where the rich, tantalizing scent of French roast coffee mingled with the
acrid tinge of wood smoke.
The first thing she did was to turn on the TV in the kitchen; it was
already set on CNN. As she poured her coffee, she waited impatiently
for news on the Iraq war.
No heavy fighting was being reported this morning. No soldiers or
friends had been killed in the night.
Excerpted from Home Front
by Sarah Hannah. Copyright © 2012 by Sarah Hannah.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.