Inspiring, hopeful, and eye-opening. I actually enjoyed this book way more than I expected to. I didn't think reading about an army couple would be my type of thing, but I was pleasantly surprised in the best way. This story is so much more then a boy who leaves a girl for Iraq.Penna and David have the forever type of love, or so they believe. They're both so alike, so comfortable with each other. But, David is a solider now and he's leaving for Iraq. When he leaves, Penna will need to learn how to cope with a love one fighting in a dangerous situation and how to deal with being away from him. She'll need to learn how to deal with family issues that need to be solved. And mostly, she'll need to look into herself and discover who she needs to be and how to believe in herself.Penna is such a strong character and I seriously commend her for what she goes through. I'd like to sit here and say I believe that I could be as strong as her in that situation, but I think you don't truly know what it's like until it actually happens to you. And, I believe Penna shows such true strength through out While He Was Away. On the other side, I actually really, really loved David. Just his easy-going personality and the way he cares so much for certain things was just inspiring. I also loved the who art connection between the two of them.When I started reading the book and I realized David was leaving for Iraq and would be "gone". I'm not going to lie I was disappointed. But, Karen did a beautiful job of weaving David into the story through his letters and phone calls. But, when Penna is coping with David's term overseas Karen has us fall in love with other stories and other characters. The stories from David show us the harsher qualities of war and what soldiers actually go through over there. And I was intrigued by them. I especially enjoyed Ravi, Jules, and Caitlin roles too. Especially Ravi! I loved getting to know him.There was one quote that kind of stuck in my brain. It's short. Simple. And not even spoken by either of the main characters. But, for some reason, I liked it a lot."Later," he says.Not Goodbye.I just feel like there's so much hope in those two tiny lines. And this story is about hope and believing and staying strong through everything. I honestly hope that Karen continues Penna and David's story because I'd love to see where it goes.