Sunrise Over Fallujah
Author: Walter Dean Myers
Grade Level Equivalent:
Guided Reading Level:
Iraq War, African American, Death, Grief, Loss, Survival
A New York Times Notable Children's Book
Robin "Birdy" Perry, a new army recruit from Harlem, isn't quite sure why he joined the army, but he's sure where he's headed: Iraq. Birdy and the others in the Civilian Affairs Battalion are supposed to help secure and stabilize the country and successfully interact with the Iraqi people. Officially, the code name for their maneuvers is Operation Iraqi Freedom. But the young men and women in the CA unit have a simpler name for it: WAR.
In this novel, Walter Dean Myers looks at contemporary war with the same power and searing insight he brought to the Vietnam War in his classic, Fallen Angels. He creates memorable characters, like the book's narrator, Birdy, a young recruit from Harlem who's questioning why he even enlisted; Marla, a tough-talking, wisecracking gunner; Jonesy, a guitar-playing bluesman who just wants to make it back to Georgia and open a club; and a whole unit of other young men and women, and drops them in Iraq, where they are supposed to help secure and stabilize Iraq and successfully interact with the Iraqi people. The young civil affairs soldiers soon find their definition of "winning" ever more elusive and their good intentions being replaced by terms like "survival" and "despair." Caught in the crossfire, Myers' richly rendered characters are just beginning to understand the meaning of war in this powerful, realistic novel of our times.
Praise for Sunrise over Fallujah
"This is an astonishing book." — The New York Times Book Review
* "Here it is at last — the novel that will allow American teens to grapple intelligently and thoughtfully with the war in Iraq." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
* "This companion expertly evokes the beauty of Iraq and the ugliness of war. Given the paucity of works on this war, this is an important volume, covering much ground and offering much insight. Robin's eventual understanding that his experience was not about winning or losing the war but about 'reaching for the highest idea of life' makes this a worthy successor to Myers's Coretta Scott King Award-winning classic." — Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* "Myers brilliantly freeze-frames the opening months of the current Iraq War by realistically capturing its pivotal moments in 2003 and creating a vivid setting. Memorable characters share instances of wry levity that balance the story without deflecting its serious tone. Through precise, believable dialogue as the catalyst, Myers'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
* "Robin takes readers behind the headlines to the everyday life of a soldier, an existence full of fear, bravery, boredom, confusion, compassion, and violence. His voice and perspective never waver from that of a young man trying to make some sense out of his tasks and his duty... the non-political approach of the novel allows readers to create their own definitions for the central word: war" — Horn Book, starred review
"...emblematic of the spare, authentic power of Myers' writing, which reveals both the universal emotions of warfare and its contemporary specifics...this offers a compelling, close-up look at a war that has raged for a large percentage of teens' lives, and together, 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
"Echoes of Graham Greene and Joseph Conrad reverberate through these passages as human foibles play out upon the battlefield." — Shelf Awareness