Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers

Title: Sunrise Over Fallujah
Author: Walter Dean Myers
Publisher: Scholastic, 2008
ISBN: 9780439916240
Starred Review: SLJ

The Plot:
After 9/11, Robin "Birdy" Perry disregards his father's wishes to go to college, instead he leaves Harlem and enters service. Birdy has never been in a foreign conflict, but his Uncle Richie has. While Uncle Richie rarely talks about his own experiences to Birdy, Birdy begins to write letters to his uncle to tell him about his experiences in Iraq. The experiences Birdy shares with his unit (and soon friends) escalates from light civil affairs to a full out military operation. The novel concludes with Birdy finally understanding the meaning of "war" and why Uncle Richie was unable to talk about it.

Sunrise Over Fallujah drags you in with its believable dialogue and haunting commentary on the war in Iraq. Myers' characters were wonderfully developed allowing readers to become emotionally attached; whether it be to Birdy, the caring doctor Captain Miller, or bluesy Jonesy. Myers really tried to understand the emotions of a soldier. His characterization of Birdy isn't just a soldier who gets picked for duty, this is a young man who wanted to protect and serve his country, but along the way he grows in his opinions and the reader gets to follow his journey.

I also think Myers' does a wonderful job at bringing a parallel between Robin and his Uncle Richie (who readers will know from the Vietnam War novel, Fallen Angels). Not only does it illustrate a bond in military service, but how regardless of time and era, war leaves a mark.

I enjoyed the book and appreciated its commentary, however I would not say this is in my top three of Prinz selections. My main problem is that Robin is overshadowed by the intense plot and the cast of characters. However this novel is still a moving read and a wonderful look into a very current and realistic issue.


BookWyrm said...

I'm most of the way throgh this book now and am more than a bit disappointed. Many of the reviews and discussions of this book mentioned Robin's uncle who was in Vietnam. Up to the point I have read this is a non-issue in the book. Robin brings it up a few times and writes to his uncle, but the only letter Robin recieved was from his mother with no mention of his uncle. So anyone worried that they would be missing something if they had not read the other book need not worry..they books are barely linked.

Other issues I have with the book include the fact that thouh the images in the book are powerful and the sense of place is vivid, the characters still feel like stereotypes or strangers to me. I'm not sure if that is what Myers intended, but it doesn't work for me. It might have worked if this story was told from the point of view of teh translator who is an outside in the country and in the army, but I would expect Robin to bond with some of the other people in his unit. Plot also seems like it was left as an afterthought to the images of war and the passages of social comentary that go on in Robin's head.

Overall not one of my favorites for Printz and not even my favorite Myers book. It is good for kicking off a discussion of war, terrorism, the Middle East, or any number of other discussions.

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