Friday, July 1, 2011

Book 5 - Sunrise over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers - Iraq

I don't usually read "war" stories but I am challenging myself to read more Young Adult novels so I thought I would increase the challenge by reading books from a variety of genres.

This book is no glorification of war or of the American way. It offers some very realistic views of what was happening for some of the young people fighting in Iraq. The story follows Robin "Birdy" Perry - a new recruit from New York's Harlem. He is not too sure why he enlisted but finds himself in a special unit called "Civilian Affairs". This unit is supposed to make friends among the locals and show the humane face of the US army. He faces the paradox of this assignment from the minute he arrives in Iraq.

Walter Dean Myers allows the voices of his Iraqi characters to raise the questions about this war. One leader says "Do you think that the people who have lived together for more years than your country has been in existence suddenly find it impossible? That the hatred has grown so quickly between Sunnis and Shiites that we must shoot and bomb each other? No, my friend." Another points out that by removing Saddam Hussein you just create more confusion "When you kill a camel it is better to cut off the body than the head," the old man said. "If you cut off the head then the camel doesn't know who he is." This book shows real stress in the motivation for the war and the execution of it. This is not a new war it is just another on top of the many wars already taking place in the land.

Birdy faces the fear, the anger, the grief and the confusion of  war with his unit. This is a compelling read.

For a look inside the book - Amazon
For a more in depth review - Teen Reads
For a student's review try this one from Jack posted in 2009