In the second installment of his Vietnam War series, Lynch follows 18-year-old Ivan Bucyk, one of four friends who pledged to go to war together once one was drafted.
Ivan was the one most excited about going. After all, his dad was in World War II, and Ivan grew up on stories of Patton and North Africa. Trained as an elite sniper, Ivan is special, but, predictably, his experience in Vietnam doesn’t match the stories of heroism he grew up on. Here, it’s not clear who the enemy is. He had figured this war would be like the American Civil War, with a clear North and South, but in Vietnam the enemy is all around and impossible to identify. Ivan has quickly come to realize he was a stupid kid when he arrived; now, with a war he can’t explain, he lives for a simple purpose: “I shoot people. That’s it.” And DERUS—“Date Eligible for Return to US”—has become his religion. Since this volume repeats the opening of the first (I Pledge Allegiance, 2011), it easily stands alone, but the series gains richness from the multiple narratives, boding well for the overall story when all four characters have had their say.
The best Vietnam War novels yet for this age range. (Fiction. 9-13)