Book: Myers, Walter Dean. Sunrise Over Fallujah. New York: Scholastic, 2008
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Summary: This book follows the actions of the Civilian Affairs Battalion as it first enters Iraq in 2008. The main protagonist of the book is Robin (Birdy) Perry, a kid just out of High School who is from Harlem, New York. This raw recruit, along with the other members of his platoon named Marla and Jonesy, follow the Marines and the 3rd Infantry Division as they fight their way to Baghdad. Soon enough, Culture Shock and the realities of war begin to be dominate the lives of the young soldiers.
Themes: The first theme in this book is obviously war. Meyers doesn’t spare any of the graphic situations that our soldiers are put over there. One of the first confrontations Birdy and his crew face is tracking down the shooter of an RPG. They find the gun alongside a family of Iraqis, where they take the young son in for questioning. Soon enough, however, the son makes a break for it and is shot three times, dying quickly in the street. Instances like these aren’t heard about in the news, instances where whole families are destroyed and young men become killers.
Another theme that runs through the book is cultural shock. The entire book takes place with the new recruits trying to establish a democracy in an Islamic Culture. The very concept is backwards, however very few people understand Islamic culture to see the absurdness building a democracy. I thought Meyers did a great job conveying the disconnect in Western and Eastern Cultures, as well as the beauty of the Iraqi landscape, what with the many mosques and architecture.
Connections: As this is an excellent example of realistic Fiction, I would think that the opportunities to examine other current realistic fiction would be great. I know the Walter Dean Meyers has written other books in this same genre, such as Monster and Fallen Angers. This book also does an excellent job at describing the horrors that war has to offer. Any other books that could elaborate on the nature of war would also be a prime teaching opportunity.
Reactions: I thought the book was good, however Meyers writes so objectively in some areas and then in other areas of the book, it’s purely point of view. It was hard for me to identify with the protagonist of the book, the kid was experiencing stuff for the very first time and it felt like was witnessing Birdy in pain, rather than feeling the pain first hand. I liked the plot a lot, however I think I didn’t take to Meyers writing as well.
Reception: Most critics love this book.
“This novel and Fallen Angels deliver a searing statement about how the lessons of history go unheeded as the fog of war envelops generation after generation.” – Booklist.
“Through precise, believable dialogue as the catalyst, Meyer’s expert portrayal of a soldier’s feelings and perspectives at the onset of this controversial war allows the circumstances to speak for themselves.” – School Library Journal, starred review.