SUNRISE OVER FALLUJAH

In 2003, in the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom, young Robin Perry already wonders about “an enemy we can’t identify and friends we’re not sure about.” Myers dedicates this novel to the men and women who serve in the United States Armed Services and to their families, and he offers a powerful study of the strange war they have been sent to fight, where confusion and randomness rule. Why are they fighting? Whom are they fighting? When will they be hit next? Narrated by Robin, nephew of Richie Perry, the main character of the landmark Fallen Angels (1988), 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. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: May 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-439-91624-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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THE BOOK THIEF

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When Death tells a story, you pay attention. Liesel Meminger is a young girl growing up outside of Munich in Nazi Germany, and Death tells her story as “an attempt—a flying jump of an attempt—to prove to me that you, and your human existence, are worth it.” When her foster father helps her learn to read and she discovers the power of words, Liesel begins stealing books from Nazi book burnings and the mayor’s wife’s library. As she becomes a better reader, she becomes a writer, writing a book about her life in such a miserable time. Liesel’s experiences move Death to say, “I am haunted by humans.” How could the human race be “so ugly and so glorious” at the same time? This big, expansive novel is a leisurely working out of fate, of seemingly chance encounters and events that ultimately touch, like dominoes as they collide. The writing is elegant, philosophical and moving. Even at its length, it’s a work to read slowly and savor. Beautiful and important. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: March 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83100-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point.

After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin.

The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyne’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice.

Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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