The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
- Method of Obtaining: I received my copy via the publisher from NetGalley.
- Published by: Little, Brown & Co.
- Release Date: 9/6/2012
“The war tried to kill us in the spring,” begins this breathtaking account of friendship and loss. In Al Tafar, Iraq, twenty-one-year old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city. In the endless days that follow, the two young soldiers do everything to protect each other from the forces that press in on every side: the insurgents, physical fatigue, and the mental stress that comes from constant danger.
Bound together since basic training when their tough-as-nails Sergeant ordered Bartle to watch over Murphy, the two have been dropped into a war neither is prepared for. As reality begins to blur into a hazy nightmare, Murphy becomes increasingly unmoored from the world around him and Bartle takes impossible actions.
- I saw this featured in the BEA Buzz Books released and thought it looked interesting.
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This is not a pretty story. It’s stark, harsh, filled with horror, and made me, honestly, want to yell and scream at someone – anyone. And the thing is, I think that’s the emotions it was supposed to evoke in me.
In The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, in less than 250 pages, we’re taken on a journey. A journey to war – in all it’s brutal, killing glory. This is a story about two Privates – each with their own path in life and death, and the hell each will leave as their legacy.
I honestly don’t know how to review this book. As far as a review goes, let me just say that this is a seriously depressing book. It’s about war, and it does not paint a pretty picture. There’s no soldier playing guitar for a bunch of little refugee kids here. There’s no parties, no laughter, no fun and games behind the lines as everyone tries to ease up on the stress level. This is what happens when hope has been not just taken away, but stomped under the feet of a commanding officer and then forced into the rotting guts of a dead enemy. Get the picture? I hope so – because I kind of wish I’d had someone to pound that into me.
After reading The Yellow Birds I was in a stupor for the rest of the day… on into the next day. There was an analogy Kevin Powers talked about – how rushing into battle is like that moment before you collide with another car in an accident. There’s that same feeling of helplessness – the knowing that you may very well die in a mere second. I had a horrific accident almost one year ago – a driver pulled out in front of me, running his stop sign, and I collided with him. I was going 52 mph. That moment before impact felt like years, and in those years I had a thousand (at least) thoughts run through my head. But first and foremost? I didn’t want to die. I wasn’t ready. And yet I think so very little about the soldiers we have out there living that moment every single day of their lives – both active duty and inactive.
I don’t want to get political in this review, I just want to say that it drove its point home to me. I don’t know what it’s like to be a soldier in war – and frankly I know that I wouldn’t have the guts to do it. But I can educate myself about it, and that’s what this story has done for me.
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