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Sunrise Over Fallujah


Sunrise Over Fallujah

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 on October 18, 2011

Sunrise Over Fallujah
by Walter Dean Myers

  • Publication Date: November 29, 2011
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press
  • ISBN-10: 0439916240
  • ISBN-13: 9780439916240