Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Writing about a very recent historical event is tricky. You run the risk of cheapening the event. If it's a particularly controversial event, you also run the risk of letting your message or agenda override the story. Fortunately, that isn't the case with Walter Dean Myers's latest young adult novel, Sunrise Over Fallujah.
Walter Dean Myers is a legend in young adult literature; 2 Newbery Honors, the first recipient of the Michael Printz Award for young adult literature, 5 Coretta Scott King awards, and the 1994 Margaret Edwards (for a lifetime contribution to young adult literature). Known for his realistic and gritty portrayal of young urban life, Myers have earned praise and recognition from critics, educators, and teens alike.
In Fallen Angels, Myers portrayed a young soldier's loss of innocence during the Vietnam War. 20 years after the publication of that novel, Myers turned to the current Iraq War for a sobering, hard-hitting look at a young soldier's experience at the dawn of the Iraq War (before Saddam Hussein was captured).
Walter pushes no agenda or political viewpoint in this novel. It's a realistic and moving look at the effect of the war on a 17 year old soldier (Myers served four years in the army after dropping out of high school; two of his three children are veterans of the Iraq War). This is definitely a YA book; mature situations and language (but not excessive language) make this a book for mature audiences. A new book by Myers is always cause for attention and excitement; when it's as powerful as Sunrise Over Fallujah, the excitement is magnified.