Today We Go Home

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 13 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

This is a gifted book from NetGalley. All opinions are still my own. I loved the two very distinct perspectives told through Larkin and Emily. But, fair warning, it does get very emotional at times. This book was released in September, so if a story about a female soldier in Afghanistan and a current veteran appeals to you then this is for you. Larkin is a current veteran who finds Emily's diary that tells the story of what Emily went through during the civil war. It goes between the year 1850 to present day so if that's of interest to you, then I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book!!
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This was an enlightening read into just how far women went to help fight for their country. Split between the past and present, a journal ties the two. The author was able to bring to life the war between the North and South while also speaking of the loss and love in families. Great read with plenty of plot changes to keep you hooked until the last pages
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This book was an interesting read about women in military service. The dual timeline with Emily serving in the Civil War and Larkin in present day after serving in Afghanistan highlighted the fact that women played an important role fighting for our country. They were more than nurses caring for the wounded during the Civil War experiencing all the war related traumas. Larkin’s story dealt mostly with PTSD. The author did a good job tying the two stories together. The awareness she brought to women in the military should be applauded.  #TodayWeGoHome #NetGalley #KelliEstes
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Dual timeline about strong women and their stories intertwine historical fiction.  Sign me up!  
This book did not disappoint.  1861 Emily Wilson decides to follow her heart and male members of her family into the Civil War.  She soon realizes some things are better left hidden to stay alive.  Present Day Seattle area Larkin is home from Afghanistan and a 6 month detour after.  Both have destroyed everything she thought she knew and brought great personal loss.
Larkin receives an old diary that belongs to Emily Wilson.   How would be spoilery and I do not want to be spoilery.  The diary helps Larkin push forward in some of her darkest days as she tries to put the past behind her although the nightmares and PTSD will not let her.  
The way the book flows with Larkin reading an entry and the next chapter being Emily's viewpoint from that entry really stuck with me and worked in terms of staying connected to the characters.
I cried more than a few times (Kleenex warning) and was reminded once again how far women have come.  I was also reminded how we must remember and SAY the names of those who fought for us to come this far.
Thank you Netgalley for the ARC!  Sorry for the delay in reading.  I highly recommend adding this to your TBR!
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As Larkin suffers PTSD from her time in Afghanistan, she finds a diary from a woman, Emily, posing as a man during fighting in the American Civil War. Emily needs to keep her identity hidden in order to take part in what she believes is important work, while Larkin reads the diary, finding hidden strengths she never knew she had. Sensitive and memorable.
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Today We Go Home alternates between present day Washington State and the 1861 Civil War era.  Current day Larkin Bennett has recently been medically discharged after serving in the military in Afghanistan.  She plans on living with her grandmother and cousin until she can get her life straightened out back in the States.  Before arriving at her grandma’s house, Larkin first stops at a rental unit to pick up the belongings she recently inherited from her best friend Sarah who was killed in Afghanistan.  Witnessing her best friend and others being killed while on duty has left Larkin trying unsuccessfully to cope with a myriad of debilitating PTSD symptoms.  One day while searching through Sarah’s belongings, Larkin discovers an old diary that belonged to Sarah’s relative (Emily Wilson).  Emily started the diary when her brother and dad went off to fight in the Civil War.  When Emily is hit with tragic news, she decides to join the Union army with her younger brother.  In order to do so, she must transform herself into a man (Jesse Wilson) and hope that she can keep her real identity a secret.  As Larkin reads Emily’s diary, she finds herself compelled to research more about Emily’s life and the friends she made.  Can researching the past, help Larkin deal with her troubling present life? 

I really enjoyed how the author was able to parallel the dual story lines of a present-day female soldier and a female soldier who would have had to have served secretly dressed as a man during Civil War times.  Even though the circumstances of these two women were different, there were several interesting similarities.  I found that I liked the Civil War story line more because I enjoy books written during this time period.  It was also difficult to read about all the bad things that were happening to Larkin as a result of her PTSD and her guilt over what happened to her friends in Afghanistan. However, I was intrigued by the author’s portrayal of a female character suffering from PTSD.  (All of the books I’ve read have male characters with PTSD instead of women.)  Although PTSD has had many different names over the years, it has affected both female and male soldiers and I thought it was extremely fascinating to read about how some of the ramifications of PTSD and serving in the military are different for women as compared to men.  The author notes in the back of the book piqued my interest about female soldiers during the Civil War and other times in American history.  Be sure to read these notes if you end up reading this book. 

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read Today We Go Home.  All thoughts expressed in this review are my honest opinions.
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One of the best books of 2019! This powerful, dual narrative story tells of brave women serving in the military, both in historical times and today. Both timelines are compelling, with unforgettable characters. A must-read.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for a chance to read this book. Published September 3, 2019

I really enjoyed this book. I had not read Estes before, but I know she had a prior book, that I will now secure and read.

In alternating chapters this book bounced back and forth between a current day, just discharged, female combat soldier having served in Afghanistan, and a young woman from the 1850's who disguised herself as a man to fight in the Civil War. The current veteran, Larkin, found the diary of the Civil War veteran, Emily, and read of all the horrific events that Emily went through, while still trying to maintain her own life, riddled with PTSD. Both women suffered devastating losses but yet took different routes to tame the elusive monster in their head.

Great story detailing the effects of war on a female soldier - past and present. How the female soldier is treated and her expected role, from both her surrounding military personnel and the general public's perception. Including what the female soldier expects from herself, while enlisted, in time of war and after discharge. Differences were acknowledged between the two women - 1850 to current day - however many similarities also remained.
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2.5 rounded upward. I expected to love this book, and I wanted it to be great. The premise is terrific: Larkin, a wounded warrior home after falling apart while on tour in Afghanistan, finds the diary of Emily, a woman that fought in the American Civil War (albeit in drag.) It’s a cool idea, and between the feminist moxie and my enthusiasm for local writers, I was ready to be wowed. It didn’t work out that way, but my thanks still go to Net Galley and Sourcebooks Landmark for the review copy. 

The contemporary storyline is the part I found strongest and most appealing. I haven’t seen a lot of novels featuring women in uniform (or freshly out of one,) whether in the Middle East or elsewhere, and the pain that Lark carries for her best friend, Sarah, is visceral and in places, haunting. Sarah served with Lark and died in an ambush that Lark believes she could have prevented. Lark sees her die, and then has flashbacks and nightmares that make my gut roil. Lark’s mama is dreadful, and I am heartily weary of seeing mothers take it on the chin in fiction, but I like the relationship between Lark and her grandmother and the way it is developed. 

I had hopes for the second thread, the one about Emily fighting alongside her brother in the Civil War, but this part is unfortunately plagued by historical revisionism and too much convenient coincidence. For a woman to be as forward-thinking as the politically correct Emily—and this is the first time I have ever used this term in a negative way, leaning much farther to the left than your average American—would have been very unusual indeed, and for Emily to have slipped beneath the social radar in other regards would have been nearly impossible. Emily thinks at one point that her brother David is gay, for example, but she worries only for his safety, because she herself is sure that gay people are just made that way by God. And while this is a lovely sentiment, a researcher could turn under every historical rock and go through every collection of Civil War diaries and letters, and she would probably not find this sentiment in any of them. And in another case, Emily is sympathetic toward a runaway slave, not only in the sense that slavery is wrong or that the runaway is toast if his pursuers find him; she views him as her social equal. Aside from the late and admirable John Brown, and possibly his sons, it would be a hard thing indeed to find such a Caucasian person in the early 1860s, North or South. Many that fought against slavery assumed that former slaves would be deported to Africa; nearly nobody is on record during that period suggesting that Black folks were equal to whites, or that they could become friends and neighbors on equal footing. 

I imagined Ta-Nehisi Coates reading this novel and howling with laughter at its naiveté. 

To round it out, Emily virtually trips over another woman-disguised-as-a-male soldier, and given the vast numbers of men fighting in the Civil War, even the most generous estimate of women that served covertly makes this unlikely enough to be ludicrous. 

I am not sure whether the pacing of the novel is also slow, apart from these inaccuracies and inconsistencies, or whether it was slowed by them, that sad moment akin to one in which Toto has pulled the curtain aside and revealed that Great and Powerful Oz is actually just a little dumpy bald guy talking into a microphone. All I know is that by the thirty percent mark, I was forcing myself to continue reading because I had a review copy and an obligation. I actually like having one galley with a sedate pace that I can read before I turn out the light, but my frustration with the issues noted above prevented me from reading it and then dropping off into peaceful slumber. At the sixty percent mark, I let myself off the hook. I took a quick look at the denouement to check for mitigating developments at the end, and then closed the book. 

Estes is a talented writer, but I believe she has tried to do too much here. A simpler novel focusing exclusively on Lark would likely have been stronger. However, she is a writer to watch, and I believe she will do fine work in the future. 

This book is for sale now.
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This was an interesting book re: the role of female soldiers past and present, the tragedies they behold, and their coping mechanisms. I enjoyed the Civil War details. Larkin and Emily are separated by decades but some things are the same. 
Many thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Given to me through Net Galley. Two different stories,one present and one past,trying to fit the two together. As the story was interesting,to me it was slow and I got confused and didn't see how the two jammed together. I think one or the other story but not both,it's hard to bro multiples and not confuse the reader. We the characters were great,I just think that one story would have been fine.
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Estes writes a dual timeline novel of two women who defy the expectations of their genders and fight in wars to protect the freedom of their country. Larkin, back from Afghanistan struggles to reconcile her role in the death of her best friend after a roadside bomb. She finds solace and strength in the diaries of Emily, a woman who followed her father and brothers into the heart of the Civil War.

Strong female characters with multifaceted problems make for an interesting and informative read.
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I love a good parallel narrative, and this one was very good. Estes captured what war is like for women across multiple centuries, handling the issue of PTSD particularly well. As I've mentioned recently , I'm pretty well Civil War-ed out, and I've never had any interest in books on modern warfare. However, Estes writes both Emily and Larkin so well and so sympathetically that neither of those personal preferences prevented me from appreciating this novel. Estes has a gift for characterization, particularly the inner lives of women, which creates a moving, engaging story, which is complemented and completed by her extensive research and detail. I certainly hope I don't have to wait 4 years for her next book. Definitely recommend.
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I liked the overall plot of "Today We Go Home", but the writing style really didn't do it for me and often took me out of the story. The story was rather slow in some parts and the ending didn't really fit with the rest of the novel.

Still, I mostly enjoyed the characters and their development throughout the story.
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The book moves from present day to the civil war area to document two women’s experiences fighting in their own war effort. The present day story was of Larkin Bennett, a veteran of Afghanistan who was medically discharged from the Army for severe PTSD.  She returns home to stay with her grandmother while trying to assimilate from active Army to civilian life. While at her grandmothers, she finds a civil war era diary of Emily “Jesse” Wilson, one of several women that disguise themselves as men to be able to fight on the Union side of the civil war. Larkin becomes obsessed with Emily’s story and courage as she fights on the front lines, always careful not to be discovered, Larkin starts researching other women’s wartime service throughout many wars – this helps her heal by identifying with other women as they had to contend with prejudice, sexism, and loss of loved ones during their service in war. This was a terrific novel of women’s experience on the front lines of war and how they had to cope. It was a fast read and for those that love stories of the resiliency of women, it is a must read. Thank you to NetGalley and Source Books Landmark for allowing me to read and offer a personal review.
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Title:  Today We Go Home
Author:    Kelli Estes
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  5 out of 5

Larkin Bennett doesn’t know what to do with herself now:  she’s out of the military, trying to heal, and cannot forget what happened in Afghanistan. She knows she must live with the consequences of the choices she made that day, but she’s not sure she has the strength. Until she finds a treasure:  the diary of Emily Wilson, who disguised herself as a man to fight for the Union army during the Civil War.

In 1861 Indiana, Emily is happy with farm life with her family. Until her father and one brother leave for the war—and don’t come home. Longing for change, Emily disguises herself as a man—knowing in this case, her own comrades are just as dangerous to her safety as the enemy soldiers. But pretending she’s someone else allows Emily to get to know herself, and her reasons for fighting, even better.

I loved this book! And I don’t generally choose to read or like military books (or movies, for that matter). I loved seeing the journeys of these two women, Larkin and Emily, and the obstacles they faced. Both are strong, believable characters, and I never knew there were so many well-known cases of disguised women soldiers in the past! Now I’m completely intrigued by the subject. An excellent read!

Kelli Estes grew up in Washington state and used to work for an airplane manufacturer, allowing her to travel. Today We Go Home is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
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This is a novel that centers on two women soldiers, one in present day and the other in the 1860s. It follows the paths of Larkin Bennett who is suffering from PTSD and severe survivor’s guilt after returning from Afghanistan and the other, Emily Wilson who in 1861, disguises herself as a man and joins the Union army to fight against the Confederates.

Larkin was given a medical discharge and on her way home to her grandmother’s in Washington state, she stops at the storage unit of her best friend and fellow soldier, Sarah. Sarah who died in Afghanistan and had bequeathed all her belongings to Larkin. In among the boxes, Larkin finds the diary of one of Sarah’s ancestors, Emily Wilson that Sarah had said inspired her to join the military.

At first it was Larkin’s story of healing that interested me the most. I’ve been drawn to and have liked novels with main characters recovering from PTSD. But eventually it was Emily’s story that kept me reading about her life and hardships as a soldier while serving alongside her brother, Ben and their best friend, Willie.

Bonus – At the end of the book, the author includes many resources for further reading on the real women mentioned in this story and other featured subjects (i.e. women in the military).
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This is a review from Fantastic Fiction’s web site.

“ 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 conducting a dusty patrol in Afghanistan. But all of 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 deeply into Emily's life and the secrets she kept”

Indiana, 1861
The only thing more dangerous to Emily Wilson than a rebel soldier is the risk of her own comrades in the Union Army discovering her secret. 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 thought she was fighting for..

I really enjoyed reading this book a heartwarming story that gives the reader insight in some of the issues military personnel  encounter in and out of their service.
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In the present, Larkin has returned from Afghanistan after being medically discharged.  Her best friend Sarah was killed overseas, in an accident that Larkin blames on herself.  Larkin is trying to figure out how to live day-to-day away from war and without her best friend.  In the past, Emily Wilson watches as her father and brother leave to fight for the Union during the civil war.  Her father is killed in battle, and Emily receives notice that her brother is deathly ill in a military hospital.  After the death of her battle, Emily cuts her hair and dresses like a man.  Together with her remaining brother, they join up.  

Although I found both stories interesting and enjoyable, they did not really work well together.  Both would have been better as standalone stories.  I often found that when I was reading about Larking, I was wondering about Emily, and vice a versa.  Despite this criticism, I enjoyed the stories and would read more from this author.  Overall, 4 out of 5 stars.
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There was a time when women were not welcomed into the fighting army.  A time not so very long ago.  Actually, even though army regulations dictate the inclusion of women in the combat forces, it is still a fact that many women are not warmly welcomed even today.

This is a novel of two women who served their country. 

In the present day,  Larkin Bennett is recently back from Afghanistan, suffering from knee injuries and a severe case of PTSD [previously called melancholia, soldier's heart, Shell Shock,  combat fatigue, battle fatigue, or even "lack of mental fortitude"]. 

 In 1861, Emily Wilson disguised herself as a boy and joined the 9th Indiana Infantry of the Union Army.
As their stories unfold, we see the similarities between the two women and how things have changed in 150 years.  Or have they?  

I read this EARC courtesy of Sourcebooks and NetGalley, pub date 09/03/19
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