A while back while fangirling with Puput @ Sparkling Letters over our love for I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios I got the idea of doing a book recommendation post for books that have characters who were or are in the military. Said post has been put off a few times but it’s finally here! 😁
I love reading books with characters who were or are in the military because nine times out of ten they turn out to be really powerful and memorable stories, I always learn something from them. I’ve noticed that I tend to find more NA or Adult with those aspects than I do YA. So, this is lacking as far as YA recommendations go. If anyone has any YA recommendations for me then let me know in the comments. I’m always on the look out for more.
*all synopsises are from Goodreads and all images link to Goodreads
I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
If Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing separating Skylar from art school is three months of summer…until Skylar’s mother loses her job, and Skylar realizes her dreams may be slipping out of reach.
Josh had a different escape route: the Marines. But after losing his leg in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be.
What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and, soon, something deeper.
Compelling and ultimately hopeful, this is a powerful examination of love, loss, and resilience.
This is probably the third or fourth time I’ve recommended this on my blog and it still stands as one of my top favorites. I’ll Meet You There is such a realistic and bittersweet kind of story. It has those moments where it’s breaking your heart and then ones where it makes you smile. It’s also one of those books where you can tell the author has done her research and knows what she’s writing about. It has fantastic friendships, a cute romance that isn’t a cure-all, it covers disability, PTSD, and the aftereffects of war. It’s also very much the story of a girl and a boy who are trying to find their way in the world and navigate through some big changes. It doesn’t sugarcoat things and will make you cry. If you’re looking for a powerful story then this just might be the book for you.
Rome (Marked Men #3) by Jay Crownover
Fun and fearless, Cora Lewis knows how to keep her tattooed “bad boy” friends at the Marked in line. But beneath all that flash and sass is a broken heart. Cora won’t let herself get burned again. She’s waiting to fall in love with the perfect man—a baggage-free, drama-free guy ready for commitment. Then she meets Rome Archer.
Rome Archer is as far from perfect as a man can be. He’s stubborn, rigid, and bossy. And he’s returned from his final tour of duty more than a little broken. Rome’s used to filling many roles: big brother, doting son, supersoldier—but none of those fit anymore. Now he’s just a man trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life while keeping the dark demons of war and loss at bay. He would have been glad to suffer through it alone, until Cora comes sweeping into his life and becomes a blinding flash of color in a sea of gray. Perfect may not be in the cards, but perfectly imperfect could just last forever . . .
This is one of those books that I’ve reread so many times just because I love it so much. While Rome is the third book in the Marked Men series it can be read as a standalone. Honestly, this book broke my heart so many times. Rome is struggling with a lot in his life. Some of it is centered around things that happened with his family, which I won’t spoil, and then a lot of it has to do with things that happened while he was in the military. He shoulders all of it on his own because he doesn’t want anyone to see him suffering. And while this is a romance novel, again, the romance isn’t a cure-all. Which I feel is a must for books that deal with serious topics like this and have characters that are suffering from PTSD. This book is mostly a story about healing, learning that it’s okay to ask for help and be vulnerable, and last but not least that perfect might just be way too overrated.
Consolation (Salvation #3) by Corinne Michaels
But my husband is dead and I’m alone. I ache for him and I reach for Liam.
One night with Liam changed everything. Now I have to decide if I truly love him or if he’s just the consolation prize.
This is one where I feel the Goodreads synopsis doesn’t do it any justice. It makes the story sound less than what it was, in my opinion. Consolation is very much a story of grief and how to accept that it’s okay to move on. It’s extremely heartbreaking but also uplifting and hopeful. This book actually made me cry within the first chapter. Natalie, the main character, finds out that her husband died in a terrible accident overseas a month before she gives birth to their daughter. So, while struggling badly with that grief she has to learn how to navigate parenthood on her own. Then Liam comes back into the picture, he was her husband’s best friend and feels it’s his duty to make sure she’s alright. Well, one thing leads to another and they start falling for each other. I loved the romance between them and it was definitely a slow burn. This one does have several lighter moments and is different than the other two recommendations. Plus, it has a shocker of an ending that you won’t see coming. Although this is the third book in a series it can be read as a sort of duology with the fourth book. They’re the only two I’ve read in the series and I had no problems understanding what was going on.
Others I’ve Loved But Haven’t Read In A While
It’s been so long since I read any of these that I can’t remember full details to do an actual recommendation beyond saying that I loved them. However, if you enjoy(ed) any of the other’s there is a good chance you’ll enjoy these as well.
Bonus – Books I’ve Been Recommended
Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie
After his older brother dies in Iraq, Matt makes a discovery that rocks his beliefs about strength, bravery, and honor in this page-turning debut.
Ever since his brother, T.J., was killed in Iraq, Matt feels like he’s been sleepwalking through life — failing classes, getting into fights, and avoiding his dad’s lectures about following in his brother’s footsteps. T.J.’s gone, but Matt can’t shake the feeling that if only he could get his hands on his brother’s stuff from Iraq, he’d be able to make sense of his death. But as Matt searches for answers about T.J.’s death, he faces a shocking revelation about T.J.’s life that suggests he may not have known T.J. as well as he thought. What he learns challenges him to stand up to his father, honor his brother’s memory, and take charge of his own life. With compassion, humor, and a compelling narrative voice, E. M. Kokie explores grief, social mores, and self-discovery in a provocative first novel.
Meet Me Here by Bryan Bliss
In a single night—graduation night—Thomas has to decide: Do what everyone has always expected of him? Or forge an entirely new path? Bryan Bliss’s absorbing examination of one boy struggling with expectations and realities will appeal to readers of Sara Zarr and Chris Crutcher.
Thomas is supposed to leave for the army in the morning. His father was Army. His brother, Jake, is Army—is a hero, even, with the medals to prove it. Everyone expects Thomas to follow in that fine tradition. But Jake came back from overseas a completely different person, and that has shaken Thomas’s certainty about his own future. And so when his long-estranged friend Mallory suggests one last night of adventure, Thomas takes her up on the distraction. Over the course of this single night, Thomas will lose, find, resolve, doubt, drive, explore, and leap off a bridge. He’ll also face the truth of his brother’s post-traumatic stress disorder and of his own courage. In Bryan Bliss’s deft hands, graduation night becomes a night to find yourself, find each other, find a path, and know that you always have a place—and people—to come back to.
I’ve heard a lot of great things about both of these books and they’re definitely two that I hope to get around to reading soon. Personal Effects, in particular, sounds like an incredible book. Have any of you guys read Personal Effects or Meet Me Here? What did you think?
Have you guys read any of these? What did you think? If not, are they on your TBR?