Author photo - Jennifer Miller 28credit Diana Levine29How did the idea for The Heart You Carry Home originate?

Growing up in the nation’s capital, I spent every Memorial Day visiting the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally on the National Mall. From a young age, I was curious about these seemingly brusque, intimidating biker-vets: why such a deep love of motorcycles? And why, decades after the war, did Vietnam remain so central in their lives? In my twenties, I was finally able to immerse myself in their world on a two-week journey from California to DC. The stories of the men who carried me across the United States on their Harley-Davidson’s and Hondas formed the basis for this novel, about a young woman struggling to understand how Vietnam and Iraq has shaped the men in her life.

Jacket Artwork - THE HEART YOU CARRY HOMEThere were few streetlights in town, and the army duffle, crammed with Becca’s clothes, kept sliding from the handlebars of her bicycle. Still, she knew these roads well enough to take them blind. Here were the doublewides, flimsy as Monopoly pieces; the gardens dotted with plaster birdbaths; and the harried-looking lawns scattered with dirt bikes and abandoned Barbies. This was her beloved, unbeautiful Dry Hills, Tennessee. She pushed past the town limits and pedaled on. Damn Ben for taking her old Cadillac. Only a month after their wedding and he had turned into someone else, like any other man around here — gotten drunk, disappeared, forced her to flee into the night. The foggy August air grew thick with droplets of moisture large enough to catch on the tongue. Becca stopped and looked around. Where was she? Out in the alfalfa fields, a glittering barn wavered like a mirage. And there was Ben, a distant apparition, playing the fiddle tune he’d written for her. “It’s a loooove song,” he’d crooned the night before his deployment. “I’m going to play it at the wedding and embarrass the hell out of you.” It was one of the few promises he’d kept, and Becca’s cheeks flushed again at the memory. Since then, there had been no love songs. Nothing except fighting and silence.