Book Review: Sunrise Over Fallujah

After the 9-11 World Trade Center attacks, Robin “Birdy” Perry, an eighteen-year-old teenager from Harlem, goes against his father’s wishes and enlists in the army; and soon finds himself heading for Iraq. Along with other young male and female soldiers, he becomes part of the Civil Affairs unit; the group of soldiers whose job it is to secure and stabilize Iraq then befriend the Iraqi people to establish trust with them. The code name for their mission is Operation Iraqi Freedom, a glorious title, but Robin and his unit soon discover that war is not always glorious.

The story chronicles Robin’s first three months in Iraq, a country he finds beautiful, intriguing and deadly. We see Iraq through the eyes of a teenage soldier who is still learning much about himself. Pride, determination, camaraderie, fear and confusion take him on an emotional journey as he comes to grips with realities of war; not everything makes the news, there appears to be no end in sight, danger is around every corner, and even the good guys die.

Robin shares his innermost feelings and concerns via his letters sent home to his loved ones. He comforts his parents that all is well and opens up to his Uncle Richie, a Vietnam veteran. It doesn’t take Robin long to realize why his uncle never wanted to discuss his experiences in Vietnam.

Based on interviews and extensive research, award-winning author Walter Dean Meyers does an excellent job of creating a clear story of the events that could occur in any young soldier’s life. He records both the good and bad that every enlisted man or woman could experience on his/her first mission into battle. This is an important book for teens, particularly those who are considering enlisting in the military. Meyers has no political agenda. He has simply written a significant and timely story that teens will enjoy and appreciate.

Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Meyers/ ISBN-10: 0-439-91624-0/ ISBN-13: 978-0-439-91624-0/2008/Scholastic Press