Why I Wrote Camp Follower: Bearing Witness

Camp Follower One Army Brat’s Story by Michele Sabad has been out for a couple of months. Enough people have been reading it that I’m getting some feedback, and I’m pretty pleased with the response so far. In addition to the verbal comments, I’ve had written reviews on both Amazon and in various publications that are very encouraging (see stevieszabad.com/books for more).

Other military brats of course appreciate the veracity of the details, the vernacular, the fondness of the memories of a unique culture that they shared with the author. The sheer number of places lived brings up stories of their own childhoods that are wonderful to remember and share. (“I lived there! Did you know so-and-so?”) It is fun to see how one of their compatriots turned out after the military life; we all ended up in diverse places and careers, none of us having had that civilian common denominator of  “hometown”. It was fascinating also to realize that although I’m a Canadian army brat, the American brat community had similar lives, and similarly appreciates my stories.

But one response from readers, especially “civvie” readers, that stands out for me is this one : I learned a lot from your book.

Huh? What could one  “learn” from my little memoir, told in short clips and stories about growing up an army kid, then becoming an Air Force wife and hockey mother, building a personal career throughout all the moves, then finally settling as an “immigrant” in an adopted hometown in Quebec? I wondered and asked my readers.

It turns out that many people not raised in “the life” never knew nor were taught anything about how our military really worked, nor how families lived with it. Sure, military folk have always blended into regular society: as kids we came and went, then as adults we rarely shared the stories, because well, frankly, people didn’t really care or understand them.

Is this really why I wrote my book? To enlighten? To, as author Frances Itani put it, “bear witness”?  Is it why I didn’t write it until I was retired, to kind of wait and see myself how such a life turned out?

I think so. I was an Army Brat. I wrote my book to bear witness to that life, that time in history. And I hope you will read to enjoy that something could be learned from this witness!Book_sale2


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