Monday, September 24, 2018

Book Review: The Heart of War

I am SO close to finishing my Goodreads challenge early. Like super early. I have to have a marathon reading session to get there!

The Heart of War - Kathleen J. McInnis

Dr. Heather Reilly has been an anti-war activist since her brother died fighting the Taliban. But her crushing student loans drive her to take a job working on a peace plan for Afghanistan, in the last place on Earth she ever thought she'd be employed: the Pentagon. On her first day, however, her position is eliminated and she’s shuffled to a war-fighting office focused on combating Russian aggression. Unfortunately, she knows little about Russia and has deep moral reservations about war. Making matters worse, she’s also working for Ariane Fletcher—a woman so terrifying, she eats generals for breakfast. As Heather learns to navigate the Pentagon’s insane bureaucracy and petty power struggles, she finds that her successes come at the expense of her personal life... and that small mistakes can have major consequences in the Department of Defense.

From Washington D.C.'s corridors of power to the dusty streets of Kabul, Kathleen McInnis spins a smart, hilarious, and heartwarming tale that shines a light on the often frustrating but sometimes rewarding experience of a career in the Pentagon.  Packed with insider knowledge about one of the least-known—yet most-powerful—organizations in U.S. national security, McInnis' debut novel establishes her as a major new literary voice with a point of view we've never seen before.

I have to just confess right now that originally I thought this was a memoir. I had it in my head that this was a memoir about her time working inside of the Pentago. So I was (and here's the embarrassing part) maybe half way through the book when it dawned on me that something wasn't quite right. The names of well known officials were not the same as I remembered them being and I (hanging my head in shame) actually Googled it because I was kind of annoyed someone would get key names wrong in a MEMOIR. Turns out, it is not a memoir. The first clue should have been the authors name is NOT the same as the main character.

You guys, I am going to blame the combination of not a lot of sleep lately, and my brain injury, and yeah. This is not a memoir. It is fiction and so if you're coming here from Instagram and you saw me reference this as a memoir, it turns out I'm an idiot and it's OK. It's fiction. It's really good but it is fiction.

Phew. So now that we have that cleared up, this book is kind of great. I was reading this at a time when my Grandpa was passing away and he's a decorated Vietnam veteran so I was interested just because I really don't know a lot about the Pentagon. I know basically what they do but how that sector of government works day to day so I thought this would be interesting for that alone. And it was. I once had a job that rivaled The Devil Wears Prada so I hold a special place in my heart for people in that crap situation, and Dr. Heather Reilly is one of those people. She's taken a job within the Pentagon basically to make ends meet. Her fiance is across the country, their financial situation is pretty bleak, and this job would help shore up some things for them but also give her some experience in the field and that would benefit her in her job as a college professor. So she takes it. But day one she finds out her job has changed and she wouldn't be doing anything that she thought she would be doing, then she meets her boss from hell and it is shenanigans from there.

Overall, I thought the book was really good. I'm giving it a solid 4 stars and the only negative about the book is that it's kind of slow to get going and it felt overly chatty. If that makes sense. Normally I like books with a lot of dialogue but this one had a lot and it almost took away from the story. Things I liked about the story are obviously Heather and her personality. I mean, she has a lot of embarrassing things that happen to her so you can't help but laugh with her because any one of us would die right there. The book is pretty humorous, not an easy fete when you're writing a book about war torn countries and the potential of sending US troops into danger. Somehow the authors makes a serious situation funny and I really appreciated that because without that this book could have been a complete downer. Interestingly, there is a romance thread in the book and I didn't really expect that from this one and while it felt a little unrealistic, it oddly fits. It feels like a movie arc, where the girl has the crap job but somehow makes it all work and falls in love along the way and the hero is there to catch her as she emerges from the job triumphant.

If you like a good romcom this is going to be your jam!


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