Review: While He Was Away by Karen Schreck + Guest Post

Book Reviews

While He Was Away by Karen Halvorsen Schreck

3 Stars

Since the moment I heard about this book, I wanted to read it. I was very intrigued by that synopsis! It turned out to be a lot more than that.

Penna’s mom owns a restaurant and Penna begins working there for the summer after David leaves. There we meet a whole cast of characters that play significant roles in this book, each in their own respective ways. I loved the sense of family amongst them that is built in a place like that.

My favorite parts in this book are the ones with David and Penna. David and Penna are crazy for each other. Their love is so strong, it’s felt in these pages. And you might think that this book might be about cheating or about her messing up while he’s away, which is what I assumed at first, but it’s not, and I am glad it wasn’t.

While He Was Away opens a window into the life of a girl whose boyfriend has just gone off to war, and the struggles that come along with it. It tells the story of how she almost lost herself in the process. It’s important to not lose one’s identity in a relationship, even when the other person is not a million miles away fighting a war, but right next to you. It’s not your typical love story, but it leaves you with a feeling of hope.

Book Info

While He Was Away by Karen Schreck
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Pub Date: May 1st 2012
Pages: 249
Format: ARC | Source: Publisher
Genres: ContemporaryRomanceYoung Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads

One year–he’ll be gone for one year and then we’ll be together again and everything will be back to the way it should be.

The day David left, I felt like my heart was breaking. Sure, any long-distance relationship is tough, but David was going to war–to fight, to protect, to put his life in danger. We can get through this, though. We’ll talk, we’ll email, we won’t let anything come between us.

I can be an army girlfriend for one year. But will my sweet, soulful, funny David be the same person when he comes home? Will I? And what if he doesn’t come home at all..?

Guest Post

Why YA Rocks My World

So, as part of The Summer Lovin’ Blog Tour, I bring you this fantastic guest post by author of While He Was Away, Karen Schreck, on why YA rocks her world…I’d say it’s pretty spot on for all of us. :)

YA is hot.

As in steamy, sultry, blazing, scathing, illuminating, fiery, incendiary, spicy, enlightening, searing, scorching.  A wildfire. A prairie burn.  An inferno of characters, settings, plots.  A refiner’s fire that draws out pure gold.

YA can also be cold.

As in chill, bitter, harsh, blustery, caustic, shivery, biting, hard-edged, cool.  A frigid wind that dips below zero.  A blizzardy drift of ideas and images.  One snowflake never like the next.  And once all hell freezes over, than YA can be the sharp-edged ax that breaks through the ice of your soul.

YA lit—good YA lit—is never, ever lukewarm.

Not in terms of content—the fearless stories told, the layers of meaning revealed.

Not in terms of character—these people live on the pages, and like most adolescents (or the adolescent in all of us, who lives on and on and on) their motivation frequently cuts to the quick:  they are desperately trying to figure out just who in God’s name they are.

And YA lit is never, ever lukewarm or tepid in terms of voice—which is so driven by character, setting, and plot, and which defines each YA novel—that distinct, one-of-a-kind voice that speaks a book into existence, that prods and goads and compels a writer—me—to tell the story.

This is just a little bit of why YA rocks my world—why I love writing and reading books for teens.  Or, supposedly for teens, since most street smart and literary savvy adults worth their salt know that Young Adult Fiction is among the best literature out and about today.


Giveaway Closed.


Jess @ Gone with the Words

35 Responses to “Review: While He Was Away by Karen Schreck + Guest Post”

  1. Avatar


    I really like the sound of this book and enjoyed your review as well as Karen’s guest post! Thanks for hosting a giveaway :)

  2. Avatar


    I did think this was a book about cheating. I’m glad it’s not. My DH was in the Navy (on submarines) when we first got married and it’s so difficult when you are so far apart, often unable to communicate for months at a time.
    I also loved your guest post Karen. Well said.

  3. Avatar


    This sounds like a great one, I definitely need to read it :) Having lived in a military town for a long time, and watched many relationships? I often feel worse for the girlfriends (and boyfriends) because everyone seems to think that they “hurt less” than the spouses – and they get less of the emotional support from those around them. 

    As always, Great review!-Jac @ For Love and Books

  4. Avatar


    This book sounds wonderful. we need more good realistic fiction that deals with events like this!

  5. Avatar


    This story sounds as timely as the headlines. I bet there are tons of young couples going through this very same crisis. Best of luck to all of them.

  6. Avatar


    This looks like such a good read…i also assumed it would be about cheating because of the title. Like “while he was away” this happened. Excited to read this one. thanks for the giveaway

  7. Avatar


    Yes, good YA is never lukewarm, and I love all of the supporting statements that followed. Thanks for contributing to this awesome literary world, Karen!

  8. Avatar

    Christina K.

    I love this “YA is never lukewarm” 

    I loved this guest post, very true and I completely agree with Karen Schreck. 

    And While He Was Away sounds awesome:)

  9. Avatar

    Emily Rencich

    I cannot wait to read this book!!  My brother is in the Army and I know how I feel when he is shipped overseas.  During his first tour, I did fall apart and my mom had no idea what to do with me.  I don’t know how I would handle a boyfriend going overseas.

  10. Avatar


    Ooh, I liked how the author described that YA can be hot or cold. I want my novels to be heartwarming, not lukewarm!

  11. Avatar


    I love this post. The adjectives used to describe why YA rocks were spot-on. I can’t wait to read this book!

  12. Avatar


    Love the post!! it was really interesting. the book sounds good too. Thanks for the giveaway!!

  13. Avatar


    This sounds like a great read!  Also, good review, I’m adding it to my TBR list.

  14. Avatar

    Ashelynn @ Gypsy Book Reviews

    oh wow this book sounds so heartbreaking! I need to read it like right now. thanks for the giveaway!

  15. Avatar


    My boyfriend went into the Airforce when I was 18. It destroyed me, and changed my life and his. I can not wait to read this.

  16. Avatar


    I’ve been hearing a lot about this book lately. Thanks for the giveaway :))

  17. Avatar


    I’m realllllly  excited about this book….. cant wait to read it.

  18. Avatar


    uggh!! i just read the terms and conditions *Open to US residents only ….. there goes my chance at winning this ….. awesome giveaway though!

  19. Avatar


    When I read this, I thought it was about cheating too! But I really loved the David & Penna scenes and it broke my heart when he went away. I also had no idea about the other plot lines in the book and they were pretty big! Basically, this book was not really at all what I thought based on the cover and the synopsis – but I really liked it, I wish there was just a little…more…at the ending, ya know?  

  20. Avatar


    Wow, this book sounds awesome. I so want to read it soon. :) Thank you for the giveaway

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.