Today We Go Home

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 13 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

CW: PTSD, death in combat/war, suicide, Afghanistan war, Civil War

Today We Go Home is a dual time frame historical, that includes narrative about each main character with little actual storyline or plot overlap between the two.  Larkin is the modern day MC, an army veteran who has been medically discharged with severe PTSD.  She lost her best friend and comrade, Sarah, in an attack, and blames herself.  Going through Sarah's things, Larkin discovers a Civil War era diary written by one of Sarah's ancestors, Emily.  Emily is the second MC, with her story told both through the diary entries and normal third person narrative.  Emily joins the Union Army disguised as a male, in order to stay with her brother, Ben.

Throughout are themes related to the roles of women and the service of our veterans, especially our female veterans. The roles of women have always been defined by men, not by the women themselves. Through it all, women have continued to do more and different things than they've been given credit for.  Emily is our Civil War era example, with several other secondary characters who were similar women making their own way in a man's world.  I think Estes is successful with this theme for Emily's character, because Estes is able to show in real time how limiting it was during the 19th century to be a woman, especially a woman without a man. But people see what they expect to see and Emily is able to succeed with her disguise for a long time. This is Emily's whole storyline, her choosing her own path..  

Larkin's story brings us back to veterans and is centered on PTSD.  We do not do enough for our veterans and the struggles are real and devastating.  We have to do better.  Estes does a great job putting us into Larkin's emotions and mental state as she deals with flashbacks, OCD behaviors, nightmares, and efforts to just stop hurting so much. Larkin's whole story is about how she moves forward from the Army and into life.  Researching the story of Emily is a huge part of Larkin's journey. It is an unflinching look at PTSD and life after the Army for Larkin.

I thought both main characters were sympathetic and well detailed.  This is not a book with a meet the characters, here's a conflict, this is how they get out of it - plot line, like in most genre fiction.  But the narrative is nicely paced and I wanted to continue to read to see what would happen next.  Will Emily be discovered? How will Larkin deal with PTSD, will she get help or continue to spiral? There isn't so much an ending all tied up with a bow, as a coming together of the two storylines in a way that made sense. 

The history is done well, as told through Emily's eyes. For me, an historical fiction that leads me to want to know more about the history, is a successful read, and that happens here. I definitely ended it wanting to read more about other women in the 19th century, ones like Emily who fought in the war and other women who defined their own roles.  Note that Estes also marks the mixed reasons for enlisting and fighting, that occurred amongst Union Army members.  Estes allows Emily to realistically learn and grow throughout her time in the Army. 

Historical fiction fans who enjoy dual time frames, should give this a try.
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Although Emily disguised herself as a man and served in the Civil War and Larkin has recently been discharged after serving in Afghanistan, they have similar experiences. Both suffered from PTSD and both blame themselves for the death of their best friends during the wars in which they served. Emily (disguised as Jesse Wilson) felt responsible for the death of her bother Ben and her best friend Willie (also a women serving as a man). Larkin likewise felt responsible for the death of her best friend Sarah in Afghanistan. The diary written by Emily during her time as a Union soldier and following her discharge once her gender is discovered, is discovered by Larkin as she takes possession of Sarah's belongings. Larkin discovers Sarah as a descendant of Emily and begins to connect with the author of the diary and sets out to return the diary to the rightful descendants. She eventually seeks the help of Sarah's brother from whom Sarah was estranged during their childhood. Larkin expects to dislike Zach, but that changes as they work together to place the diary in the hands of Emily's descendants.
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A very good historical fiction. The writer did a good job at working on two storylines and creating something interesting and engrossing.
There's a lot of character development, I couldn't help rooting for the two heroines, and the plot is entertaining and kept my attention.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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I really enjoyed this book on two storylines I haven't read a lot about recently.  The first story line was a combat veteran in modern day times suffering from post-traumatic stress after serving in Afghanistan.  As someone with a family history of active duty in the armed forces, I thought this was an important story.  The author poignantly and truthfully described what it is like for far too many of our servicemen and women returning from the long war.  The second story line was that of a woman who disguised herself as a man to fight in the Civil War.  Both stories were very compelling and kept my attention.  There were a few details that didn't get wrapped up as well as I would have liked in the end, but overall this was an excellent novel.
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A mesmerizing tale, based on true events, of a young  woman who disguises herself as a man to fight on the front lines of the Civil War.  The story is told in alternating timelines between the Civil War  and the story of a modern day female soldier in Afghanistan. I learned a lot about the Civil War and women in the Military! The author did a great job keeping things historically accurate and I found it easy to be immersed into the timelines of both women and their stories.
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This was such a unique premiere of a book, I loved reading it from beginning to end. The two timelines are interesting and each leading lady in the timelines are great.
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This was a touching, heartbreaking, and heartwarming tale of two courageous women, 150 years apart, who each fought for the right to fight for America and then afterwards fought the demons they earned as soldiers. Although completely different, their parallel stories were both of survival, grief, loss, healing, hope, and love. Larkin struggled with PTSD and surviver’s guilt as well, but so did Emily just not in so many words. This book was well written, the characters were phenomenal, and it has something for everyone, whether they enjoy reading about war stories, historical fiction, social progress, family dynamics, mental health, mysteries, etc. The author concludes this book by listing resources for mental health, suicide prevention, and veteran’s services, as well as titles for further reading, a short historical summary of actual women who fought in the Civil War, and a brief essay on women in the military. 

I was given a copy of this book, but that did not affect my review.
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Kelli Estes is a great storyteller! Today We Go Home is an interesting story taking place during the Civil War and the war in Afghanistan. I had no idea  that during the Civil War there were women who actually joined up to fight. The story is based on real women who actually disguised themselves as men and fought for their country in 1861. It talks about soldiers and how they suffer and cope in society after war is over. I love Estes first book The Girl Who Wrote In Silk and look forward to reading future books written by her. I’m hoping maybe she will do a sequel to Today We Go Home, I would love to know what happens to Gabriel, Isaac and Nellie. Thank you Sourcebooks Landmark for the ARC of Today We Go Home. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in historical fiction during the Civil War. I rate this a solid 3.75.
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Really enjoyed this book. It kept me interested all the way through. I would definitely recommend to a fellow reader. I like the cover as well.
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A moving and heartrending story of two women, one a soldier in the Civil War pretending to be a man and the other a vet with tours in Afghanistan. The parallels between their lives are life changing as history is relived and connections with the present are made. Wonderfully told.
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I was honoured to receive an ARC for this book from NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Having had read Kelli Estes’ first novel, I was excited to read her second one, as I absolutely LOVED the first, and knew that I had to get my hands on the second! Upon first reading this book, I was entranced with the story right away, which featured a dual timeline, and a focus on two different women, each of them fighting a battle of their own. 

One view focuses on Emily Wilson, a woman who disguises herself as a man in order to fight alongside her brother, Ben, in the American Civil War of 1861. The flip side features Larkin Bennett, a soldier who fought for the United States in Afghanistan. As the book begins, Larkin is experiencing symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), specifically in relation to the death of her friend, Sarah, and the other dramatic experiences associated with war.  

It was intriguing to note that women were allowed to disguise themselves as men, and become enlisted in the Civil War, it was something that I didn’t think existed! I loved reading about Emily’s bravery, especially when it came to the number of deaths she witnessed, and the assault she experienced as a woman, something that she came to hate once her time in the war had ended. I also loved how Emily finally found ‘her place’, and knew that once she was in the area she wanted to be in, she became a settled woman, focusing on how her experiences could benefit others.

In terms of Larkin’s story, I truly felt for her, wanting to hug her tight, and tell her that everything was going to be okay in the end. I felt sorry for the symptoms that Larkin was experiencing, while trying her best to settle them without getting any of her family involved. Based on the terrors that she experienced on a daily basis, I couldn’t imagine living in that sort of way; she truly was a brave and honourable woman to have served her country in such a way. 

Kelli Estes did a fabulous job of describing the difficulties that both Emily and Larkin experienced when fighting, both in the war, and on a personal level. Emily was forced to hide her PTSD, as it was uncommon for it to be well-documented during her time-period. However, Larkin was given the support needed, first by her family, then by her community as a whole, whom included her therapist, someone that she relied on heavily in the end. I was surprised to read about how women fighting in the Civil War was a common occurrence, paving the way for women to become soldiers on a regular basis in the present time-period. 

Overall, a well-researched and heartbreaking story of how war can take away the most vital parts of one’s human soul, while also giving them the courage to become stronger then they thought they could be. Kelli Estes really knows how to write, and I enjoyed how well-scripted and beautifully-written this book was; in my mind, another grand hit!
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Today We Go Home is the story of two women soldiers, Emily Wilson, who fought disguised as a man in the American Civil War, under the Union Army, and Larkin Bennett, who was deployed to Afghanistan twice by the US Army. Emily joined the Union Campaign because her father and eldest brother were both killed fighting for what they believed in, and she did not want their deaths to be in vain, Larkin joined the army because of "Gramps", who fought in the Korean War, and because of the trip she'd taken with him to Washington DC, in junior high, when she'd learned that women were in the military. Sadly, during Larkin's last deployment she lost her best friend Sarah Faber, during a routine patrol, as a result of a suicide bomber. While Larkin suffered from PTSD after losing Sarah, Emily suffered from what was called back then "melancholia", but despite the different names, they were both suffering the from the same thing: nightmares and flashbacks from what they witnessed. Today We Go Home, is the story of how, both Emily and Larkin, make their own ways "home", not necessarily to a physical home, but a feeling of home, after the trauma of war.

Kelly Estes dedicated this book "to all women, past or present who have served in the military. Thank You."

"Home isn't where our house is,
But wherever we are understood."
- Christian Morgenstern in Stages:
A Development in Aphorisms and Diary Notes.

5 stars to Kelly Estes for this most informative and important read.Thank you #netgalley for allowing me to read this e-ARC of #todaywegohome.
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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Sourcebooks, Inc. through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.  

This story’s chapters go back and forth between current day and Civil War era.  Current day’s character is Larkin, who lost a best friend, Sarah, in a battle in Afghanistan, and Larkin suffers from PTSD.  Reference is made throughout the book to PTSD and the impact on soldiers and their families.  

The Civil War character is a woman, Emily, who loses family members to the Civil War.  She disguises herself as a man and joins the army.  I especially enjoyed the storyline of the Civil War.  Women disguising themselves as men to gain access into the Civil War was frequently done but not often shared.  The challenges women faced is also shared.  

Woven throughout the book that ties the two times is Emily’s diary.  Larkin has Emily’s diary from Sarah and there is a touch of a mystery trying to identify the relationship with Sarah and Emily.  

If you enjoy a story about history, relationships, PTSD, survival, women in battle, or a touch of romance, this book will meet your needs.  It also gives the reader insight into the way of life of Afghani people.  The book starts slow but stick with it.  It is well worth it.  The book is well written and thoroughly enjoyable.
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I didn't expect to cry so much.  I am a fan of military novels, with Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried" always landing in my list of all-time favorite historical fiction novels.  However, there has been little for books from the female soldier's perspective.  Kelli Este's book explores this perspective by alternating the perspective of a modern-day female Afghanistan war veteran with PTSD with that of a woman who enlists in the Civil War by pretending to be a man.  Both women deal with trauma, and both discuss the unique challenges their femininity introduces.  I absolutely recommend this book.

Thank you Kelli Estes, Sourcebooks Landmark, and NetGalley for the advance release copy of this book, in exchange for my honest review.
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Today We Go Home, by Kelli Estes, tells the powerful story of two women separated by two hundred years but connected by their experiences. Emily Wilson lives during the time of the American Civil War. After losing her father and eldest brother to the Confederate guns, she and her younger brother enlist in the same regiment. But Emily must hide her womanhood in order to serve her country and follow in her father's footsteps. In the present time, Larkin Bennet has returned home from her second deployment in Afghanistan, bruised in both mind and body. After losing her best friend to a suicide bomber, Larkin must find something to live for. She finds it in Emily’s diary. The two women discover their strength and purpose as they wade their way through war, loss, trauma, and life in a man’s world.

I knew I was going to love this novel when very quickly tears were brought to my eyes. Estes’ writing is powerful, moving, and incredibly real. While I don’t have PTSD, Larkin’s struggles were written so well I forgot for the majority of the novel she wasn’t a real person. But of course, she is real, in a sense. She, and Emily, are representatives of all the women who have served their country. I thought the description of Emily’s trauma was well done and suited the time period. As Larkin discovers, PTSD was not diagnosed as such back then and there was little support for it. But in both cases, the women are able to find a purpose to focus on and get the help they needed.

The flip between the 1800s and present time was flawless. I loved the way Larkin would read a diary entry, and the following chapter would typically be Emily’s point of view version of the entry or just leading up to it. I have read some novels where the flip is quite clunky, but am happy to say this is not one of those novels.

Overall, I must say I’ve read few novels as powerful as Today We Go Home. I don’t think it’s too “feminist” for anyone to enjoy, as I worry some may think the theme is pandering to recent events. Regardless of whether Larkin is a man or woman, or if we focus on Emily or Jesse, the story is about two soldiers who find their strength in an extremely volatile time and place. I applaud Estes’ research and her way of making sure that no one woman’s story was left unsaid through her encouragement to the reader. With flawless writing, relatable characters, and an important message, Today We Go Home is a must read.

And I feel it necessary to thank those who serve their country, both men and women. But especially those who often get overlooked. As Estes says in her parting words: “See her. Hear her. Thank her.”
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Note: Thank you Kelli Estes, Sourcebooks Landmark and NetGalley for the preview copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.

April 16, 1861 : Stampers Creek, Indiana

"Here she was, a woman, standing among men and serving her country."

Set in Indiana during the year 1861 and Seattle of the present times, this tale by Kelli Estes is interesting, engaging and meaningful. This is the story of Emily Wilson and Larkin Bennett. 

”This book is my attempt at righting the record and spreading the word that women in the military were and are badass. They are strong, resilient, equally as capable as men. To all women who have served, you are my heroes.” 

Today We Go Home is a fitting tribute to all the strong and resilient women in general, and particularly to all the brave women who were and are currently serving in the armed forces. 

”She has good days and bad days. All we can do is be here for her and hope the good days start the outweighing the bad pretty soon."

This book touches upon the emotional issues, particularly PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and the traumatic experiences that women go through during the time they serve in the armed forces. 

”Women today were doing the same jobs as men, both in the military and out of it, and still being treated as second-class citizens.”
Our female veterans deserve the respect of being recognized by their country and honored for their service, the same as men. 

When you meet a woman veteran or actively serving female military member, please, take a moment to really listen to her and know that her sacrifices and experiences are equally as valid as those of the men who serve. 

See her. Hear her. Thank her.
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What an enjoyable and exciting read. We get a bonus, the book contains two great stories of two special  female war veterans.  Larkin Bennett is our present day hero, serving two deployments to Afghanistan. Her life has ended as she knew it. She has moved in with her grandma to recover and try to deal with the PTSD. While going through her best friends Sarah's things, which were left to her, she finds an old diary.  The diary belongs to Emily Wilson. A young woman who disguises herself as a man, so she can fight in the Civil War next to her younger brother. Kelli Estes intertwines contemporary and historical settings flawlessly. 
This book was one I read long into the night. I could not but it down. Due to the time period, there are some very dark situations during the war. Kelli Estes has a special way of bringing light out of the darkness. I was given a copy of this book by Sourcebook Landmark through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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This is an interesting story told in both the present and the time of the Civil War. After being discharged from the Army< Larkin Bennett suffers from PTSD and her guilt over the death of her best friend Sarah, which she feels at fault for. While going through Sarah's possessions she finds the diary of Sarah's ancestor, Emily. Emily posed as a soldier to follow her brother into war. This story alternates between Larkin's troubles and Emily's story, through which Larkin is able to find some peace and a purpose. A very engaging book and a thoughtful look at women in the military in the past and present.
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I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  			
From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.			
Two women, living centuries apart, fighting for our country’s freedom…and their own.

Seattle, Washington

Larkin Bennett has always known her place, whether it’s surrounded by her loving family in the lush greenery of the Pacific Northwest, or riding on a dusty convoy in Afghanistan. But all that changed the day tragedy struck her unit and took away everything she held dear. Soon after, Larkin discovers an unexpected treasure: the diary of Emily Wilson, a young woman who disguised herself as a man to fight for the Union in the Civil War. As Larkin struggles to heal, she finds herself drawn deep into Emily’s life and the secrets she kept.

Indiana, 1861

The only thing more dangerous to Emily Wilson than a rebel soldier is her own comrades in the Union. But in the minds of her fellow soldiers, if it dresses like a man, swears like a man, and shoots like a man, it must be a man. As the war marches on and takes its terrible toll, Emily begins to question everything she has been told about the freedom she is supposed to be fighting for.

This book was fascinating as each story could have stood on its own, in its own book, but melding them together was genius.  Each woman (girl? lady?) was a badass on their own right and their stories, although quite disparate, melded effortlessly into one solid, amazing story.  I have never read anything by Kellie Estes before (she is a first-time author as I looked into it and found out), but this certainly makes me want to: she needs to write a second book!! 

This is a definite book club pick: I run and belong to eight different clubs so these ladies and gentlemen will be enjoying it as well once it comes out as I get t pick the books!

As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by Millenials on Instagram and Twitter) so let's give it some good Seattle Coffee: ☕☕☕☕☕
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This book is long overdue for so many women, in so many aspects of life. Stick your neck out and defend a woman's right to serve her country in the military, or even have the choice of having an abortion, or God forbid, choose her own husband; and the male collective will hang a feminazi label around that neck.

I'm sure every woman would like to go home today, to a place where she is understood and accepted. Thus, I am so very grateful for ESTES to put into eloquent words, that which all women carry deep in their hearts.

Written in the third person omnipresent, and presented as two entertaining stories, one in the past, one in the present, ESTES allows the reader advanced knowledge of Emily's story to better understand Larkin's.

Emily Wilson was one of hundreds of women who joined either the Union or Confederate armies of the Civil War. Each woman's reasons for joining were as varied as women's reasons are today for joining the military.

Eventually she was found out and dismissed, with shame and prejudice. Shame and prejudice from men (and sometimes women) continue to follow present day women both in the military and other traditionally male dominated professions. Shame on you men for being so insecure!

The main point of ESTES' book is to address PTSD which affects many if not all returning veterans and the lack of services to get help from.

I was shocked and disgusted that the mainstream population are so disinterested in their deployed soldiers and should they be lucky enough to return alive, there is not nearly enough done by that same military and society in general to help these soldiers re-adjust into civilian life, or help with mental issues that are created by war.

War is unnatural, it is an unnatural act and it has mental consequences. If these men and women are brave enough to stand between us and a bullet from our enemies, surely the onus is on us as a society to welcome them back, thank them profusely and help them overcome the mental bullets they took for us?

PTSD is not a joke. It can be caused by any trauma in life, sadly trauma normally involves violence. Women who are raped can develop PTSD. Men who are raped can develop PTSD.

Both men and women who have lived in abusive relationships can develop PTSD. It can affect any person for a number of reasons, however, it is a terrible disorder to have to live with. The sad part is the public in general don't know enough about this disorder.

In my opinion, stop diagnosing kids at 10 years old with bi-polar and start addressing the far greater problem of untreated and undiagnosed PTSD sufferers in society.

It is an ugly mirror we shine on ourselves when we cheer when our army goes off to war and then forget about them and avoid them when they come back.

I rate this book a solid 5 stars and again, I cannot thank KELLI ESTES enough for addressing this issue. 

"Oh, there won't be many coming home 
Oh, there won't be many coming home 
Oh, there won't be many 
There may not be any 
But there won't be many coming home." 

           - Roy Orbison

To all the veterans who served in my place: I see you. I thank you. I hear you.
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