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Review: The Yellow Birds

September 14, 2012

While they’re in training, 21 year old Private Bartle and 18 year old Private Murphy discover they’re both from Virginia and strike up a friendship of sorts.  At the company’s shipping out ceremony, Bartle tells Murphy’s mother, “I promise I’ll bring him home to you.”

When they get to Iraq, the young soldiers see and do things they never could have imagined.  They stick together, though, and do what they can to protect each other from all the danger they encounter.  As things intensify, Murphy begins to lose his grip and it seems unlikely Bartle will be able to keep his promise.  In the end, more than one life is destroyed.

There has been a lot of buzz surrounding The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers and, after reading it, I can see why.  I’m not sure I can do this book justice, but if I had to describe it in one word, I’d say intense.  But it’s so much more than that – this is a beautifully written, heartbreaking story of the tragedy of war.  I’m sure it will become a classic and be taught in schools.

Powers served in the Army in Iraq, so the book rings of authenticity and parts of it are horrifying.  Because Powers is a gifted author, the book was so agonizing at times, I had to set it aside for a few hours.  I was horrified and found myself gasping.  It’s hard for me to comprehend that we send our young soldiers into situations like those described in this book.

Told in the first person from the point of view of Bartle in a non-linear fashion, The Yellow Birds got under my skin.  It’s a book I won’t soon forget.  Even though it wasn’t an easy subject to read about, I think this is an important book that needs to be read and discussed.  I have a feeling we’ll be hearing a lot about this book and its author.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

35 Comments leave one →
  1. September 14, 2012 8:01 am

    I have been undecided about this book. You’re thoughts may have pushed me read it.

  2. September 14, 2012 8:06 am

    Sounds amazing. Thanks for the review.

  3. Beth Hoffman permalink
    September 14, 2012 9:45 am

    When I first heard about this book I was apprehensive as I felt it might upset me. But I have to say your review might have me rethinking.

    Happy weekend, Kathy!

  4. September 14, 2012 9:53 am

    I’m not happy with myself for having disregarded this one at SIBA. I think that it would hit really close to home, as I have a brother who is an active duty Marine and has served two tours in Afghanistan. But I think it’s an important read and I should probably read it. Darn it! Should have gotten it when I had the chance!

  5. September 14, 2012 10:14 am

    I’m thinking this isn’t a book for me to read now, but certainly later when my own life is more settled and I can handle the emotion.

  6. swright9 permalink
    September 14, 2012 10:36 am

    Yes I’ve had this war novel on my radar. Glad you thought it was good & important.

  7. September 14, 2012 10:47 am

    You aren’t the first to rave about this book. I think there will have to be a time that feels right to give this the attention it deserves and for the mood it will put you in. But, I’m definitely interested in reading it.

  8. September 14, 2012 11:03 am

    You and Heather (Raging Bibliomania) both posted reviews today about intensely deep subjects and I definitely want to read both books! Did y’all plan it that way *wink *wink! Wonderful review!

  9. sandynawrot permalink
    September 14, 2012 11:34 am

    I read a review of this yesterday at Jenn’s Bookshelf and the first thing that came to my mind was that it sounded like “The Things They Carried” but only in a more modern setting. Like Heather, I passed it up at SIBA. Grrrr.

  10. September 14, 2012 11:50 am

    Sounds very intriguing, thanks for sharing your review.

  11. September 14, 2012 12:34 pm

    This sounds beautiful, in a very sad way. Sounds like it was very worthwhile, though.

  12. September 14, 2012 12:50 pm

    Sounds like a great book. Thanks for your thoughts and the review. Hope you have a great weekend!

    Diane :O)

  13. September 14, 2012 12:55 pm

    I’m reading this now and finding it moving and thought-provoking. There are a lot of very good war novels out now.

  14. September 14, 2012 2:00 pm

    I think I need to read this. I think it is important to understand from people who know what is going on with the boys in the military over there and it seems like this book captures it in an intense and vibrant way. I’m intrigued.

  15. September 14, 2012 2:36 pm

    This sounds like a rip-your-heart-out kind of book, and one that needs to be read. Thank you–it is definitely going on my must-read list.

  16. September 14, 2012 3:23 pm

    And here I thought you didn’t read war books…LOL Sounds like this was a good one that got you interested. Thanks for the review.

  17. September 14, 2012 3:56 pm

    I have been looking forward to this one. I am considering audio.

  18. September 14, 2012 4:05 pm

    I had no desire to read this before your review but what you’ve said here sounds wonderful.

  19. bookingmama permalink
    September 14, 2012 4:48 pm

    A very powerful book indeed!

  20. Patty permalink
    September 14, 2012 4:51 pm

    It sounds intense and thought provoking.

  21. September 14, 2012 8:54 pm

    I had not heard of this book before, but it just went on my must have list. Great review.

  22. September 14, 2012 10:17 pm

    I do want to read this sometime as I have a feeling it might be like Matterhorn, in some ways, a book I liked.

  23. September 14, 2012 11:29 pm

    It sounds fabulous. But I may have to read it just because of the even more fabulous last name of the author. (It’s the same as mine. :-D)

  24. September 15, 2012 12:33 am

    Sounds like a book everyone needs to read. I’m adding it to my list!

  25. September 15, 2012 1:42 am

    I used to read a lot of war books, but then a few years ago one of the boys I went to high school with was killed in Iraq and I find that I am not drawn to those books like I used to be. So, while I am interested in this one, I just don’t know when I will be likely to read it.

  26. September 15, 2012 2:01 am

    Wow, this does sound like a powerful and gripping read. Adding it to my to-read list for sure.

  27. September 15, 2012 11:08 am

    This does sound like it will become a classic in time. I don’t mind reading war books but I have to space them out as they are usually very intense reads.

  28. September 15, 2012 8:15 pm

    I have heard such great things about this book and I’m really looking forward (as much as you can look forward to reading a book about such a topic) to reading it.

  29. September 15, 2012 10:11 pm

    Wow! I want to read this one but I’m afraid to only because my son, nephew, and cousin are all in the military and one never knows if they too will end up in Afghanistan. I hate war and I hate that our boys are over there right now.

  30. September 16, 2012 12:26 am

    I don’t usually choose war books but this one sounds so relevant I may have to read it.

  31. September 16, 2012 1:19 am

    I would like to read this one. I think friendships formed during a war are very special and meaningful. Really, your buddies who have been in the war are the only who’ve really seen the atrocities seen by you. I’m not feeling that reading this type of book would digest in my mind very well at the moment. Glad you finally finished this one. I know it took a lot out of you after reading the review.

  32. September 16, 2012 2:26 pm

    This definitely sounds like one of those books I would need to be in the right head space to read but it sounds like one that is certainly worth reading. Thanks for sharing!

  33. September 17, 2012 11:27 pm

    I know I need to make myself read some of these esteemed war novels but I’m just not in that place right now. I hope someday I will be so I can share them with Gage.

  34. September 20, 2012 9:34 am

    Sounds like one I should definitely add to my to-read list!

  35. March 6, 2013 8:18 pm

    Going on the “to read” list.

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