Sunday, January 6, 2013

2013 Books in Review #1: "Yellow Birds"

Less than a week into 2013 and I am done my first book! Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers was the first book in the Literature and War 2013 read along and I picked it up yesterday from the library and couldn't put it down. If I hadn't had to sleep and work I would have been done it in one sitting I am sure. My review can be found below.
Kevin Powers served in Iraq with the US army in 2004 and 2005. The book is written from the point of view of Private Bartle who is serving in Iraq during the same time period as Powers actually served. It weaves between time periods, jumping back and forth between Iraq and then the US after Bartle returns from the war. Every chapter jumps to a different period of time and while this could easily be disjointing, Power has woven a story that flows easily.
I don't normally read books about war, and this was stretching me outside of my normal box. The details are disturbing, and because they are written by someone who has seen first hand the realities of this war, they are graphic at times. I found myself drawn into the story, feeling more than just my own emotions, but also those of the characters.
The connection between Bartle and Murph is complex, and touching. While I knew early on that Murph had died, I didn't see the ending coming until it did, and it added a whole new layer for me to the story and the character. In reading about the thought process in deciding what to do with Murph's body I saw parallels to other decisions where we might guess what might be best for another. Sometimes we are wrong, but the thought process and emotions going into the decision are important and fascinating.
All in all Yellow Birds drew me in far more than I thought it would. I love books where I can identify with the characters. In this book I was in a unique position as I have no personal experience going to war or actively sending a loved one off to war, and yet I felt that Powers made the characters relatable to me even still. It is not surprising to me that he is a poet. His way with words was outstanding.
As far as my 2013 challenges go, this will be book #1 read, #1 for my library challenge, my first letter in my A-Z challenge, and book #1 in the Literature and War challenge.

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