D-Day, June 6, 1944, is the setting for Myers’ powerful prequel to Fallen Angels (1988) and Sunrise over Fallujah (2008).
Old friends Josiah “Woody” Wedgewood and Marcus Perry see each other in England prior to the invasion of Normandy. Woody is with the 29th Infantry, and Marcus, who’s black, is with the Transportation Corps, the segregation of their Virginia hometown following them right into wartime. Their friendship frames the story, as the two occasionally encounter each other in the horrific days ahead. Woody survives the slaughter on Omaha Beach to continue marching across fields, through forests and on to the town of St. Lo, though there is no town anymore: “We hadn’t liberated anything, or anyone. We had destroyed the city, killed or chased away most of the people in it, and were claiming a victory.” Woody’s first-person account focuses on action scenes, cinematically developed and graphic enough to reveal something of the brutality and frequent futility of war, while his friendship with Marcus, peripheral to the central narrative, reminds him of home. “June sixth changed us all,” says Woody, and he understands that, if he survives, he will never be able to convey what war really is to those who stayed on the homefront. An author’s note goes into greater depth about integration in the U.S. Army in the 1940s.
An action-packed novel that will help young readers understand the brutality of war. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 12 & up)