on October 12, 2008
Myers, Walter Dean. Sunrise Over Fallujah. Scholastic Press. 2008.
This is a poignant story about a young black soldier from Harlem, New York who is sent to Iraq in the early days of the war; and although fiction, his impressions, experiences and friendships portray vividly the emotional tension of a war zone. The book begins with a heartfelt letter that Robin "Birdy" Perry writes to his Uncle Richie, a Vietnam vet. "Birdy" explains that he wanted to help his country after 911 and he thought that his war experience would be different from that of his Uncle who had to deal with anger from his fellow Americans when he returned home. He asks his Uncle to help his father understand why he needs to fight for his country. Contemporary language and realistic interactions lend immediacy to this dramatic story that reveals the powerful friendships and conflicts that can arise amidst the affecting life and death backdrop of war.
on May 16, 2011
Robin "Birdy" Perry feels compelled to leave Harlem, forego college, and join the Army in the aftermath of 9/11. He does just that--without his father's support. In Sunrise over Fallujah, the 2008 young adult novel by acclaim writer Walter Dean Myers, Birdy finds himself in Iraq and attached to a Civil Affairs unit, a group of soldiers assigned the dubious honor of testing the waters in various "hearts and mind" situations with local Iraqis conceived by higher ups who say they are intent on establishing peace and building democracy. Birdy soon learns the people he can trust are the men and women soldiering right alongside them. Beyond this small group, nothing's for sure.
Because soliders who participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom had not only to defeat an enemy but also to build relationships with locals whose loyalties might by lie with the old regime or with some other religious faction or with some other tribe, knowing where to point the gun and when to soot becomes a nightmarish challenge. The Rules of Engagement change from day to day. Nothing is clear. Nobody can be trusted. Everyone has an agenda. And some lies are very convincing.
Myers's novel takes the reader on a journey through the desert, the streets of Baghdad, and other parts of Iraq that are as mysterious as they are ancient and sometimes incomprehensible to the young man from Harlem and his friends--a tough gunner who bounced around in foster care, a wannabe blues musician, a dad--in uniform. Moving forward from day to day with limited information to do job after job on which depends the future of a war-ravaged country about as unlike the US as a country could be turns Birdy and his friends into adults who understand the power and eloquence of silence to speak for the soul from that place deep down where words have no place.
As I turned the pages of this novel about teenagers at war, I found myself muttering, "No way, no way, no way...." because I liked the kids in this story. I could see the students in my classroom becoming these soldiers--and hopefully knowing before it's too late that life is about the person alongside you and the only moment you have is right now.
Sunrise Over Fallujah
on January 26, 2010
Several times while reading this book I had to stop and remind myself that this was a novel and a work of fiction. Walter Dean Myers captures the very essence of the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom. As a Member of an Army Transportation Unit deployed to Iraq from April of 2003 to May of 2004, I recognized many of the sights and sounds (and even the smells) brought to life by the author.
War is a challenge for the best of us, and the young people depicted in this novel are no different than those that I had the privilege of serving with. This book is not a political statement, but instead a glimpse into the very life of the first OIF soldiers. For those who believe that Mr. Myers characters are whiny and unprofessional, I am here to tell you that you worry more about soldiers when they cease to complain. For that is the very first clue that your troops have lost their drive and their will to survive.
I would recommend this book to any young person who is considering joining the military, and I salute Mr. Myers for a first rate book and also Scholastic for printing such a timely and profound piece.
on May 30, 2008
The Iraq War, in the news now for years, is the focus of SUNRISE OVER FALLUJAH, the latest book by veteran YA author Walter Dean Myers. He has written other war stories, but this newest one expresses the controversy and mixed emotions Iraq has generated among so many.
Robin Perry, aka Birdy, has made the decision to enlist. Certain members of his family have expressed their concern and even disapproval of Robin's decision to serve. Through occasional letters to family members, readers learn about many of Robin's wartime experiences.
As part of a unit assigned to handle civil matters with the Iraqi people, Robin and his fellow soldiers still see all angles of military action. The endless lines of army and marine vehicles traveling toward Baghdad, the choking sand storms, the frightening IED explosions, and grieving soldiers and civilians all combine to illustrate the horrors of war.
Robin's feelings about the senselessness of the war are clearly expressed. As the events of his tour of duty unfold, he realizes if asked whether the Americans were winning or losing, he would find the question unanswerable. The promise of a quick return home for the troops turns into delay after delay as it becomes obvious that Saddam's reign may have ended, but many more deep-seated problems exist in war-torn Iraq.
Although the story of SUNRISE OVER FALLUJAH is a mere glimpse of the action through the eyes of few, Myers has created a chance for teens to learn about a war that has filled their days much as the Vietnam War became part of the lives of teens some thirty years ago.
Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky"
on January 21, 2015
As the father of two boys whose gathering steam into pubescence is building momentum to the dawning of the day that they, of their individual volition will have the ability to join the armed forces, I feel my own anxiety mounting. Lying awake in bed at night, I can hear the passage of time as the carnage of war becomes less a digital celebration of modern entertainment ("Call of Duty" comes to mind), and slowly edges in to the dim light of life and death reality for my sons. I have lost friends to the war on terror. I have friends that are disfigured and disabled from a decade-long era of unending war. How do I guide my sons on such a vital matter in which I have precious little personal insight?
Sunrise Over Fallujah may be a good starting point for this conversation. Myers seemingly presents a topically accurate accounting of one young man's experience in the recent era of unending conflict in the Middle East. While not exhaustive in scope, Myers quickly gets to the heart of the narrative of the American soldier as an architect of peace and rebirth rather than a one-dimensional warmonger.
As good as Sunrise Over Fallujah is, it is remarkable both for what is included and what is excluded in the text. Myers necessarily includes combat, and its aftermath, in the narrative. Unlike the genre of first person shooters that most kids know and love, Sunrise Over Fallujah doesn't glorify the gore and mayhem that pervades military style shooters. But it also lacks a real examination of the emotional trauma of death and of killing. The narrative infers those consequences, but passes over them in only a shadow's substance. In so doing, Myers probably misses some opportunities to move beyond the nuance and introduce younger reader's to some hard realities. In the end, Myers produces a timely, and telling book that rightfully belongs on any YA "must read" list.
on August 17, 2014
If you've been paying attention to the news for the last several years, you'll recall that we're at war. Read here to learn what the young men and women (and not always so young) see and think about the goings-on in Iraq. These are US Army soldiers (a few Marines) who give their impressions of war and life in the military. Surprisingly, it's not positive and it's not negative. It's reality as they perceive it. Not even as their officers and non-coms wish them to perceive it; not even as their command structure or parents would like them to.
The group of new soldiers, hardly-acquainted, inexperienced in combat, arrives in Kuwait and soon are ordered to the attack on the Hussein regime in Iraq. They step up to what they were trained to do. They are reluctant, afraid, conflicted and excited. They often surprise themselves, but they don't disappoint their leaders or their country. Be advised though: they have doubts, they have issues. These are your kids, or kids you taught in school, or sat beside in school, or ate burgers and birthday cake with. They have all that baggage and they bring it with them to Iraq. It's their filter as they fight and kill and try to do their best. It's kind of sad to watch them go through it, but they do and they pretty much succeed.
Walter Dean Myers is a good writer. This is the first book by him for me, but it was an easy read. I liked that it was both honest and sincere.
on September 18, 2012
Let me just start off by saying I am not a big reader, but once I started reading this book I could not put it down. I think everyone should read this book, it was incredible.
The decision that Robin Perry, a young man form Harlem straight out of high school, made to join the Army and to travel to Iraq to fight for our country was indescribable. The book details Robin's thoughts and feelings about his decision about joining the Army and sometimes has him doubting his decision.
In the book when Robin and his fellow soldiers make it to Kuwait and begin their house to house inspections was intense to me, it was almost like I was there watching all the events. The first house they entered the discovered a clean apartment with a young boy, old man, old woman and a little girl inside. They also discovered a RPG launcher that had recently been fired. They took the young boy out of the apartment to ask him questions, but as they reached outside a sniper from a near by building began shooting. The young boy the had in their custody was shot and killed right in front of the soldiers. This event was very disturbing for Robin and caused him to have a lot of emotions and thoughts run through his head.
One day Robin is talking to fellow soldiers and the next learning that they have been abducted makes the current situation that much more real and terrifying. Walter Dean Myers account of the sand storm leading up to the Humvee explosion and the kidnapping is very realistically frightening. For the soldiers to see their fellow soldiers held hostage on TV was sad.
At one point in the story Robin is forced to act quickly to save a female Captain at a hospital. Due to his brave actions and work his unit was asked to help out with a high profile and dangerous assignment.This part of the book changes all the lives of the characters involved.
The book also shows that the soldiers do have free time to enjoy themselves and relax, but only a little.The letters from home and even the monkey Victor received always made the soldiers smile. They even had a new soldier, Jerry that was a great soccer join the squad and teach them how to play.
If you really want to understand what went wrong with the war in Iraq, look no further than "Sunrise Over Fallujah" by Walter Dean Myers.
The first three months of the war are viewed through the eyes of Private Robin Perry - aka Birdy - who is part of a Civil Affairs Unit. The men and women in Birdy's unit are well-trained, yet ill-prepared for what awaits them on the battlefield. In the beginning their mission is to follow the invasion forces, and make contact with the Iraqi people to begin building a democracy. Yet as the weeks progress, their unit keeps getting pushed further into the combat zone and deeper into danger. All too quickly they go from playing soccer to win over Iraqi youths to combat in the streets.
From Marla-the-gutsy-girl-gunner to Jonesy, the blues fanatic philosopher, Birdy is flanked by a colorful and diverse bunch of characters from all walks of life, which is so typical of the military experience. Their story is an important one because it shows what happens when good, brave young people are tasked on an impossible mission with a woefully in adequate understanding of the language and culture of the region, and where the rules of engagement (ROE) change from one day to the next.
While some readers might find the dialogue a bit tame - perhaps even unrealistic - it's clear Myers chose a style that makes this book palatable for the classroom, and suitable for readers as young as 10 years old.
This book is not an escape into a fantasy world of wizards and dragons, it is a jolt of reality about the war our children have already inherited.
However, "Sunrise Over Fallujah" is one voice - one perspective on this war. Surely we need other voices and more perspectives. I hope this will be the first of many books for teens about a war that has been waged for a third of their lives.
on September 7, 2013
I saw this book in my dentist's office. I read a couple of pages and was hooked. I borrowed the book and finished reading it in between my dental appointments.
This novel was published in 2008 and is about a young soldier's account of his experience in Iraq when he enlists in the army against his father's wishes after 9/11. It was written without any malice or judgment -- just a window into the world of what our soldiers went through in Iraq. Each character in this novel was well developed and the storyline moved from chapter to chapter. There was never a dull moment in the book. The main character's letters to his folks back home really touched me.
This book was written by Walter Dean Myers and was probably aimed at young adult readers. But I enjoyed reading it because it was written in a large, well-spaced format. I didn't need my reading glasses. (The dentist office's copy was a hardcover and published by Scholastic Press.) The author have garnered many accolades and awards and deservedly so. This book is for people of any age, race, or gender. Highly recommended!
(After reading this book, my pending root canal didn't seem to matter, thanks to Walter Dean Myers!)
on July 25, 2008
What would it feel like to be fighting for your country --- and your life --- right after graduating from high school? Get a close-up view of the beginning of the current Iraq War in SUNRISE OVER FALLUJAH, another powerful novel by Walter Dean Myers. Against his father's wishes, Robin Perry chooses the military over going to college in 2003. He finds himself near the border of Iraq, struggling to understand who he is and what he is doing there.
Jonesy, a soldier from Georgia, is Robin's best friend in the military. He plans to open a blues club someday and compares everything to music, but for now they have each other's back. Robin is not too sure about Marla, who dubs him "Birdy" and seems to enjoy teasing him endlessly. They, along with Captain Coles, are assigned a Humvee for their work on the Civilian Affairs team. In between missions they enjoy each others' company over meals and in the safe zones during downtime. They even try to play soccer against some Iraqis.
The Civilian Affairs soldiers are supposed to help the people living in a war zone by providing them with medicine, water, or assistance in developing a new independent political system after Saddam Hussein is gone. But the Rules of Engagement change frequently, and Robin and his fellow soldiers learn that some civilians are from different warring tribes or simply want Americans dead.
When some people in an ambulance try to kill Robin and his comrades, Robin realizes he can no longer relax anywhere. Another time he sees an officer from his company killed by an IED (improvised explosive device) set off from a cell phone. Pulling that man from the remains of his vehicle haunts Robin's thoughts for a long time afterwards.
Soldiers who Robin talks to one day are kidnapped (or worse) the next. The author refers briefly in the story to Jessica Lynch and her comrades who were abducted. Details are well researched and recognizable, and readers will relate to the young soldiers. Through translators and contact with locals, Robin struggles to understand the way of life for the people in this sometimes beautiful, sometimes war-torn land.
At one hospital, Robin is forced to act quickly to save a female Captain. With each new experience, he feels he has become a different person, doing things he never would have imagined doing back in Harlem. As a result of their good work, Robin's unit is asked to help with a dangerous and highly political assignment. It changes everyone involved.
Walter Dean Myers draws readers right into his story with alternating beautiful scenery, searing emotions and life-threatening situations. Loosely set as a sequel to his notable FALLEN ANGELS, in which Robin's Uncle Richie fought in the Vietnam War, SUNRISE OVER FALLUJAH offers an unforgettable look at the war being fought by many young adults who will never return home.
--- Reviewed by Amy Alessio