I get asked so often for a list of recommended books for Military Spouses that I thought I would create a Military Spouse Reading List, just for our readers! Every month I will feature a few books on our Reading list and review them for you. Hopefully you will wind up with a whole new list of books to read, from novels to practical resources.
The first book on my Military Spouse Reading List is the first book I read as a military spouse, and it still has remained my absolute favorite many books later. If you are a newer military spouse and you read just one book for military spouses, you must read Going Overboard: The Misadventures of a Military Wife by Sarah Smiley, the wife of a Navy servicemember.
The book is a true story that I read cover to cover in just a few days. It is about Sarah Smiley’s first deployment and how she handles, and mishandles the homefront. She is endearing, honest, funny and down to earth.
Sarah is a Navy brat but she realizes very quickly that being the daughter of an admiral is very different than being married to the military. She feels cheated, thinking that she should have felt more prepared for her husband’s deployment to Iraq, since she has been military all her life.
Sarah’s husband is Dustin, a Navy pilot and long-time sweetheart who she practically grew up with. One of the most endearing parts of this book is that Sarah is not afraid to talk about her difficulties. She shares problems learning to live with Dustin as a newlywed couple and how even at home their communication seems to suffer. Sarah bares her feelings of neediness and simultaneously her shame in feeling so dependent. She is upfront with the fact that she is not completely ready for her husband to be half a world away. She is not afraid to talk about her roller coaster of emotions: from sad, angry and bitter to happy, triumphant and secure in herself.
Sarah faced her first deployment with a two-year-old and a newborn. Like most military spouses, she often felt alone, abandoned and scared. The book is truly a lesson in confidence, as Sarah discovers that the biggest thing holding her back was a fear that she was not a good enough mother to handle things by herself. In Sarah I found that I could see myself. Her friendships change as she gets married and even her married military friends sometimes don’t see eye to eye.
She struggles to learn her support system — who she should call for what? who can she depend on? — but I found that I was able to reevaluate my own friendships just by watching Sarah learn her way around. Sarah learned that she had that call-at-4-a.m. friends and she had some go-out-just-for-fun-and-forget-about-stuff friends. They don’t always have to be the same people.
Sarah’s infrequent and unsatisfying communication with her husband even makes her question her marriage. This is a scary one. I never like to think about this happening but for many of us, it does. We go through uncertainties, and sometimes communication is does no go well even when we are in the same room with our spouse. The brilliant part is reading through the heartache and coming out in the end, where you realize that perhaps the journey made all the difference.
As Sarah takes you through her journey, I guarantee you will find some of yourself in the pages, and the best part is watching her stumble through, even though the jumble of mishaps never seems to end, it all seems to fit together in the end.
Photo courtesy Sarah Smiley