5 Minutes for Books: Long Division

by Jennifer Donovan

The year is 2003, and the end of summer should be memorable for twenty-four year old Annie Harper simply as a time for prepping her third-grade classroom and enjoying the last few days of vacation. Instead, she finds herself waving goodbye as her boyfriend is deployed to Iraq, and she’s unsure of where this leaves her. Is she expected to join a women-left-behind support group? Should she be crying on her parents’ shoulders? In Jane Berentson debut novel Long Division, Annie Harper charts her own course for survival on the home front.

Well, the group formed by other girlfriends and wives just doesn’t feel right for Annie, and there’s very little crying on anyone’s shoulder (even though her mother clearly feels like this would be a helpful experience), but Annie does discover one method to not only bide the time but also to record the experience for posterity. With images of a bestselling book dancing in her head, she starts writing, beginning a memoir that eventually becomes filled with humor and irreverence, a dash of politics, and a whole mess of self-discovery.

And what a mess it can sometimes be. With 392 days of deployment scheduled for her boyfriend David, Annie spends more time with her best friend Gus, volunteers to spend one-on-one time with a resident at a retirement home, and even opts to adopt a chicken. (Yes, she gets a chicken. She’s really all over the place!) In the end, it’s easy to see how this young character still has a lot of growing up to do, and yes, she’s a bit self-absorbed, but really, who isn’t when he or she is young, responsible for only oneself, and in possession of a lot of down time?

Her focus on herself is intentional, since the format of the novel revolves around her recordings of day to day life and feelings while her boyfriend is deployed, and thankfully it comes off more endearing than annoying. I found Annie to be funny and self-deprecating, irreverent and profane at times, making me think we would have had fun hanging out when I was twenty-four! At her heart, Annie is a loving and thoughtful young woman, and at this stage of her life, she’s still discovering what happiness, loyalty, and love can be like.

For me, this novel was a fun and semi-lighthearted look at the time spent back home by one girlfriend of a soldier, whose perspective is often amusing, especially in her many long-winded footnotes that add to the sincere appeal of her character. Annie Harper’s year features both stress and joy, loss and discovery, making for an entertaining and charming tale.

We’re happy to be able to offer two copies of Long Division in this week’s giveaway! Leave a comment to be entered, U.S. residents only, please.

Also–Friendship for Grownups, a great book by Lisa Whelchel, is still open another week, so go over and enter now.

The winners of Every Natural Fact are #3 Margaret and #4 Nina and Brian.

Book Blogger Dawn’s faux-memoirs take the form of her silly little blog, my thoughts exactly, where the stories shared range from funny kids to her love for NPR.

Email Author    |    Website About Jennifer Donovan

Jennifer Donovan has been a part of the 5 Minutes for Mom team since 2007. She writes product reviews, covers events, and manages the 5 Minutes for Books weekly column and website. She lives in Houston and blogs at Snapshot about life with her family.

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Hailey August 2, 2010 at 9:44 am

I would love to add this book to my collection. It sounds great!


2 meghan August 2, 2010 at 10:38 am

I’d love to read this. As a wife to a hubby is away for business, not deployed, I feel like I am going stir crazy myself.


3 Sarah August 2, 2010 at 10:51 am

Love books, especially new authors!


4 Mozi Esmes Mommy August 2, 2010 at 11:31 am

I’d love to read this!

janemaritz at yahoo dot com


5 Sarah N August 2, 2010 at 11:47 am

I would love to read this : ) Thank you for the chance!



6 Jessica August 2, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Sounds good!


7 Casondra Clement August 3, 2010 at 12:48 am

Sounds like a fun read!


8 Michelle H. August 3, 2010 at 3:18 am

I would love to read this.


9 Tammy Gordon August 3, 2010 at 6:02 am

Sounds like a great book!


10 Carolyn August 3, 2010 at 6:47 am

Always looking for new books…


11 katklaw777 August 3, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Looks like a fun read, thanks for the review.


12 LaVonne August 3, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Thanks for the chance to win!


13 Staci A August 7, 2010 at 11:54 pm

My husband was deployed in 2002 (before we were married), so I think this would be such an interesting read! Thanks for the chance to enter!


14 abi August 10, 2010 at 9:39 am

please include me thanks


15 Annette W August 11, 2010 at 8:02 am

Wow…looks like another good book!


16 Alison S. August 11, 2010 at 10:19 am

Sign me up!


17 riTa August 11, 2010 at 10:40 am

As a budding memoirist, I am attempting to be more instrospective and self-aware. This book may help, and be fun to pass on to D and DIL.


18 Katie Schroeder August 11, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Sounds like a fresh take on an important topic. Sign me up!


19 Casey August 11, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Would be interesting to read, although in my house I am the one that deploys, not hubby (but thankfully not for a whole year at a time). Thanks!


20 Holly August 11, 2010 at 3:48 pm

This sounds like an interesting read.


21 Upstatemomof3 August 11, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Oh I want to read this!!! I think I like Anne already.


22 Katie August 11, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Would LOVE to win this!



23 aimymichelle August 13, 2010 at 12:03 pm



24 Sandy August 13, 2010 at 9:57 pm

I am a third grade teacher and I think I would enjoy reading this book.


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