Thursday, October 3, 2013
The Yellow Birds: a review
Info: Little Brown, copyright 2012, 226 pages
A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): How do you beat the war that follows you home?
"The war tried to kill us in the spring," begins this breathtaking account of friendship and loss. In Al Tafar, Iraq, twenty-one-year old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city. In the endless days that follow, the two young soldiers do everything to protect each other from the forces that press in on every side: the insurgents, physical fatigue, and the mental stress that comes from constant danger.
Bound together since basic training when their tough-as-nails Sergeant ordered Bartle to watch over Murphy, the two have been dropped into a war neither is prepared for. As reality begins to blur into a hazy nightmare, Murphy becomes increasingly unmoored from the world around him and Bartle takes impossible actions.
Only a part of Bartle returned home from the war. The other part is still in Iraq praying that he isn't the one-thousandth casualty. He's still in the desert, rifle on his shoulder, talking to his best friend and bunk-mate Murphy. But Murphy didn't make it back from the war. Bartle promised Murphy's mother that he would protect her son. But he couldn't. Murphy didn't make it back, and Bartle knows why.
This is a quality book. Powers does an amazing job of portraying a man broken by war. He moves seamlessly between the present and the past, slowly revealing Murphy's deterioration and Bartle's own difficulties after the war.
The Not So Awesome
Sometimes the seamless movement between two time periods was a bit confusing. Time stamps attempted to let you know where and when Powers was taking the story, but sometimes it was difficult to switch perspectives.
I'm not lying, the book was really well-written, but just not my cup of tea. Perhaps it was too real; too heartbreaking. I have no basis for comparison, and I don't fully understand what our brave military goes through on a daily basis. I do know that I fear for them coming home. I fear for their families who are waiting eagerly for their return. Do the same men that left really make it back? If you like gut-wrenching relevant realistic fiction, then this might just be the book for you.
So I'm giving it 4 gnomes for quality, but
cause it's just not my thing.