Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sunrise over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers

We may think we know about the war in Iraq, but Walter Dean Myer's book lets us experience what young people are going through over there. The book’s main character, Robin, is 18 years old and has enlisted to stand up against the people who engineered the attacks of 9/11. He and his fellow recruits, both men and women, are not accustomed to being in a foreign country and are dependent on what they are told and on their gut instincts. One recruit’s mantra is that everyone has to “cover everyone else’s ass”, so that they have a chance of survival. Ironically enough, this is the soldier who ends up risking his life for a blind Iraqi child. Their particular unit is called “Civil Affairs”, since they are to go behind fighting units and help deal with civilians. But once the aftermath of the invasion starts heating up, their unit becomes just as prey to IED traps and attacks as combat units, and Robin’s sense of mission is not so clear anymore. Civilian casualties and the inability to determine who is friend or enemy make this a particular difficult war. Myers has written a story that develops each character to the point that you can feel their frustration and their desire to help others, and in some cases, feel their decision not to care. One soldier trained in first aid is told not to help wounded civilians since they may be the enemy, but she does it anyway. Myers does a good job of portraying the efforts of our army to make sense of a terrible situation and to try to do their job. Whether they have succeeded, he leaves it up to you to decide.

No comments: