Sunrise over Fallujah
Walter Dean Myers
Scholastic Books, May 2008
main character: Robin “Birdy” Perry
Walter Dean Myers is a well known young adult author. His writing routine is well established, from completing job application forms to develop his characters to having his wife hang items related to his story over his desk. And sometimes, he reaches into his own experience to bring a story to life. At 17, Myers left home and joined the Army and so does Birdy. I don’t think Birdy knew he was going to end up in a combat zone because we find him in Iraq when it was first invaded. Myers craftily sketches a picture, requiring the reader to use their best judgement to fill in the blanks and in doing so, we find ourselves in the shoes of our young hero. The soldiers in the story are on a mission where nothing is clear: it is difficult to know who the enemies are, what the purpose of each mission is, or even what one will be doing on any given day. This is a thought provoking book that makes us wonder what the war, indeed any war, accomplishes. Myers questions in a way that does not dishonor the bravery of the soldiers or the integrity of American leaders.
Throughout the book, Birdy writes letters to his uncle who happened to have been in Myer’s previous book, Fallen Angels. Birdy is acually assigned to a unit that is meant to repair and maintain friendly relations with the Iraqi people once the invasion begins. Male and female soldiers work together to figure out how to get the job done and to protect one another. I found the interactions quite interesting as I would never have expected soldiers to be quite so mouthy to their superiors! Myers used soldier’s blogs and interviews as research for this book.
Themes: war, Iraq, relationships