Sunday, May 12, 2013

To Iraq and Back by Jessica Scott (Review)

Image of Jessica Scott

My name is Jessica Scott. I am a soldier. I am a wife. I am a mother. There are many stories from the Iraq War, but this one is mine. 

In 2009, Army second lieutenant Jessica Scott deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. It was a year of many firsts.

This is the first person journey through a combat tour in Iraq, through being a woman in the army and learning to be an officer in the unforgiving environment of a brigade combat team. This is the journey of a writer, learning to find her voice. This is the journey of a mother, confronting the emotions of leaving her children. This is the story of an inexperienced lieutenant, growing into a leader.

This is the journey as it happened, without commentary.

This is her blog. There are many blogs from the Iraq war, but this one is hers.

About Jessica:
Jessica Scott is a career army officer, mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs, wife to a career NCO and wrangler of all things stuffed and fluffy. She is a terrible cook and even worse housekeeper, but she's a pretty good shot with her assigned weapon and someone liked some of the stuff she wrote. Somehow, her children are pretty well adjusted and her husband still loves her, despite burned water and a messy house.
Oprah has called her. True story.
Her debut novel BECAUSE OF YOU launched Loveswept, the first Random House digital imprint.
She's written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View Regarding War, and IAVA. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of OIF/New Dawn and is currently a company commander stationed at Fort Hood.
Most recently, she's been featured as one of Esquire Magazine's Americans of the Year for 2012.

My Review:
To Iraq and Back is a journal written through out the one year deployment of Jessica Scott. She writes candidly about her time at war, her feelings as a woman in combat and a place of authority,  a mother having to leave her two young children behind, and as a wife of an enlisted man.

Jessica Scott doesn't hold back on speaking her mind about what she is feeling. She spoke of her struggles on being a woman in the military, as well being a wife and mother. She wrote about being an officer and the daily trials she endured. She spoke candidly about her personality and her loyalty, and I wish I had marked the book page where she wrote about stupidity and people slacking on the job and not taking pride and responsibility in their work, because I actually saw myself in her reactions and responses, and her thoughts mirrored my own in most instances. 
Jessica's story may have been written during wartime, but it didn't stop there. To Iraq and Back is a very personal story for Jessica. We, as civilians, often have no idea what goes through the mind of an enlisted person. Jessica wrote about standing at attention while flag draped coffins were loaded on to a transport plane. She was brutally honest in recording her anguish and confusion, and loyalty to her country and fellow combat soldiers. "Remember the fallen. They have names. I never really got it before...I never understood when I would see Vietnam Vets crying at a parade for the Fallen. I felt sad for them, but I didn't understand. 

I didn't understand when I saw an old man at the officer's club wearing his Cav Stetson, just wanting to be around soldiers a little longer. I didn't understand why my Command Sergeant Major lost his mind on a soldier for not shaving. It wasn't about the beard. It was about wearing the uniform with pride, because in these colors, soldiers have died. I started to understand the day we took our first casualty in country. The day we lost a battalion commander and his crew. I started to understand the first day I stood in the Memorial Ceremony and Taps ripped part of my soul out. And I started to understand the day I stood on the tarmac and saluted a flag-draped coffin. It was the first...I walked into the chow hall today, acting like today was any other day. It was decorated in Red, White, and Blue. Alone at the front was a soldier's cross: a Kevlar helmet resting on a rifle, propped up in a pair of empty boots, a pair of dog tags hung around the rifle."

"Today (Memorial Day) I understand that it is not about the flag, or parades, or those of us who are still fighting. Today it is about our fallen brothers and sisters. The ones who gave all for something greater than themselves. Today I understand. And it hurts."

She writes about surrendering control over her children to her parents, and having panic attacks about something happening to her children while she is so far away. Jessica writes about how thankful she is that her mother is caring for her children and doing a great job, because as Jessica says, "trust me, my oldest could piss off the Pope."

She wove humor throughout her story, and in the end, writes of coming home after being away from her family and small children for a year; and the readjustment to "real" life back in the states. 

Jessica writes likes she talks, and at times, the cussing (a habit she is striving to break) flows like volcano lava. 

I have read and enjoyed several non-fiction books by Jessica Scott and found this book no less entertaining and well written. The stories are raw and full of emotion.
"Happiness is dreaming you're already back in Iraq from R&R only to wake up and discover you have ten days left in the States with your kids."

To purchase To Iraq & Back click the link or book icon below:

Disclaimer/Disclosure. I received a complimentary copy of this book with no obligation for a positive review. No compensation – monetary or in kind – has been obtained for this post. Cover art, book description, and any excerpts are courtesy of the author, publisher, or PR firm. Book Trailers are a free feature. All videos are provided by the author who has granted My Life. One Story at a Time. permission to post them on this blog. The views, beliefs, and opinions expressed by guest post authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views, beliefs, or opinions of My Life. One Story at a Time. My Life. One Story at a Time. is an advertising affiliate with Amazon, a small fee is earned when purchases are made using the above links.

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