The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
This novel is the perfect choice for fans of the classic Vietnam war novel called The Things We Carried by Tim O’Brien. This book is set in the war in Iraq, narrated by twenty-one-year-old Private John Bartle. Early on in the story, Bartle promises both his commanding officer and a mother to watch after the naive Private Daniel Murphy, who he met in boot camp. As the two soldiers struggle through the battles, killing and mental and physical stress, readers begin to build a portrait of the desert war through the infantryman’s eyes. Since the writer is and Iraq war veteran, his descriptions of the land and the often horrific incidents feel realistic. The battle sequences are gripping, yet difficult to read; feeling all too close for comfort.
This book is a good choice for readers looking for insight on the American involvement in the Middle East, readers wanting a realistic depiction of war, and anyone interested in an intense and emotional look at war and friendship. Although originally written for the adult audience, I wholehearted recommend it to interested teens.