Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers

I recommend this book for: grade 7 and up

In 2003, 19 year old Robin Perry leaves Harlem to serve his country in Iraq. His father is upset at his decision, but Robin feels compelled to make a difference. This book chronicles his experiences as part of a Civilian Affairs unit - the people who go in when the shooting is supposedly over to deal with the people and help them see that Americans are the good guys.

I'm not a war book person, really, but this one had good points. The men and women in Robin's unit (who dub him "Birdy") are interesting, and their banter is entertaining to read. Myers portrays the immediacy of the war well - one minute the soldiers are just riding to the market, the next a car explodes. Birdy has to face his fears, particularly of himself and what he will become as a result of what he sees and does.  The letters he sends home - cheerful, hopeful, and reassuring - make an interesting counterpoint to the confusion and doubt he actually feels.  

There were also bad points. I felt some of the dialogue was a bit overdramatic.  Also, I knew without a doubt pretty much as soon as all of the characters from Birdy's unit were introduced who was going to die, which really lessened the impact when it happened.

Parental stuff - as you might imagine in a war book, there is some bad language and violence.  It doesn't get terribly gory, but there are descriptions of severed body parts and a somewhat graphic scene where two men are killed at point blank range.  There are a few sexual innuendoes ("I want to see what she's got under those fatigues"), but it's all talk.  

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