The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers – Book Review

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
Published by Little, Brown and Company, an imprint of Hachette

The war tried to kill us in the spring…. Then, in summer, the war tried to kill us as the heat blanched all the color from the plains…. It tried to kill us every day, but it had not succeeded. Not that our safety was preordained. We were not destined to survive. The fact is, we were not destined at all. The war would take what it could get. It was patient. -p. 3-4

Private John Bartle is physically back from Iraq, but his experiences there have left him missing something, a piece of his humanity. Private Bartle was stationed with his platoon in Ninevah province, an area where gains and losses seem almost cyclical, taking a step forward now only to take a step back in six months. While in Iraq, Bartle made it a mission to watch over a younger soldier, Private Daniel Murphy, a mission that will haunt him more than perhaps anything else he witnessed there.

I was not surprised by the cruelty of my ambivalence then. Nothing seemed more natural than someone getting killed…. We only pay attention to rare things, and death was not rare. -p. 11

The Yellow Birds is an incredibly affecting novel of the war in Iraq. Powers is himself an Iraqi war veteran, and the emotions he describes both of the time during the war and the time after coming home.

What would I say? “Hey, how are you?” they’d say. And I’d answer, “I feel like I’m being eaten from the inside out and I can’t tell anyone what’s going on because everyone is so grateful to me all the time and I’ll feel like I’m ungrateful or something. Or like I’ll give away that I don’t deserve anyone’s gratitude and really they should all hate me for what I’ve done but everyone loves me for it and it’s driving me crazy.” Right. -p. 144

Although it is a physically slight novel, The Yellow Birds is hugely powerful. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand how war affects our soldiers and I would not be surprised to find it as required reading by the time my children are in high school, despite some strong language., perhaps even replacing All Quiet on the Western Front.

Very highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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The Survivor by Gregg Hurwitz – Book Review

The Survivor by Gregg Hurwitz
Published by St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of Macmillan

Between the PTSD that caused him to lose his family the Lou Gehrig’s disease that promises to make him lose himself, Nate Overbay no longer has much to live for and he doesn’t intend to look for anything else. Nate has every intention of killing himself by jumping from the upper window of a bank and is on the verge of doing so when the bank is overrun by vicious masked robbers. Nate’s military training serves him well and he ably thwarts the crew, but not before the ringleader gets a good look at him and delivers a threat. Before long, Nate discovers that the threat is by no means an empty one; he has been recruited by a Russian mobster to obtain what the crew was at the bank to steal or lose his beloved but estranged daughter in an extremely painful way.

Gregg Hurwitz is a master of exciting and suspenseful books, and The Survivor is no exception. As an indicator of just how absorbing it is I began reading it while in the hospital being induced with the girls and read fully half of it while undergoing increasingly intense contractions. Although you might expect that giving birth – plus the nurse coming in and out and the fact it was the middle of the night – might be distracting, but The Survivor did a fabulous job keeping my attention. Nate is a very realistic and sympathetic character put in an impossible situation who reacts with loyalty, bravery, and humanity, all of which causes the reader to invest in him and his family.

The Survivor is a wonderfully engaging and human thriller, able to keep a reader’s attention even in the most distracting circumstances.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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