Book Review: Dinner with the Smileys

A few weeks ago I started hearing about a book called Dinner with the Smileys. It was written by a Navy spouse about how her and her family spent her husband’s yearlong deployment by inviting a new guest to join her and her 3 boys for dinner. I was intrigued as soon as I heard that. My first though: what an incredible idea. I couldn’t wait to read about their story, and journey.

Book Review: Dinner with the Smileys | More Than a Military Spouse
Dinner with the Smileys. Photo of book by Jessica Hall

Sarah Smiley, a syndicated coulmnist and author, paints a beautiful, accurate, and moving picture of deployment, starting with processing the news prior to deployment through homecoming. There were moments throughout that reminded me so much of my own experience, like the longest days every leading up to redeployment, or just having moments where you wanted to talk to more than just a face on a screen or more than an email. Throughout the book I laughed and cried and smiled. I could relate to her experiences, and was a bit jealous of the awesome community she had around her family, but I also remembered the awesome community I was able to build around me during my deployment.

I loved the idea of inviting new people to dinner every week. Guests ranged from elected officials (including Senator Olympia Snowe and the Maine Governor) to her children’s teachers to neighbors to athletes. The dinners were casual and fun. Some had obvious lessons going in, others became evident as the dinner happened. And everyone changed and grew during the year.

Reading Dinner with the Smileys definitely brought back memories – good and bad – and opened my eyes to how other families cope with deployment. It also gave me some great ideas for if and when deployment happens again, and how to do so with kids. And I was really struck by how amazing their community came together. I hope to always be around people that are so supportive during rough times, be that deployment or something else.

What I’m getting at is that you should read Dinner with the Smileys, it doesn’t matter if you have a sense of the military or not, if you have any relation. It’s a well-written, thought-provoking and charming book. You will fall in love with the family and love their story, I promise. They are a family that you want to be friends with.

Anyone else read this book yet? What did you think? Who has it on your summer reading list?


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