I picked this book up in Nashville in October at the Southern Book Fest. It's the story of two young soldiers who are sent to Iraq for a tour of duty. Both are from small towns in Virginia, both enlisting to find a better life. Their experiences in Iraq affect them profoundly, altering the futures they had planned.
John Bartel's first impression of basic training was that he "...remembered feeling relief in basic while everyone else was frantic with fear. It had dawned on me that I'd never have to make a decision again. That seems freeing, but it gnawed at some part of me even then. Eventually I had to learn that freedom is not the same thing as the absence of accountability."
He is assigned a buddy, Murph and before the are sent overseas, Murph's mother makes him promise to take care of her son. The weight of his promise is crushing when he returns after a year at war.
"....I had the feeling that if I encountered anyone they would intuit my disgrace and would judge me instantly. Nothing is more isolating that having a particular history. At least that's what I thought. Now I know: All pain is the same. Only the details are different".
It is a heartfelt story that makes you think of the reality of war and the people who go to it.
Published: 2012 Read: November 2014 Genre: Fiction