Title: The Yellow Birds (Goodreads)
Author: Kevin Powers
Published: Hachette, 2012
Genre: Literary Fiction
My Copy: Paperback
Buy: Amazon, Book Depository, Kindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)
Haunted by Murph, The Yellow Birds follows the story of Private Bartle and his time served in Al Tafar, Iraq, the loss of a friend and the aftermath. Every war there seems to be one powerful book that is so heartbreaking but helps readers get an idea of the tragic nature of war; I’m thinking All Quiet on the Western Front, The Diary of a Young Girl, The Things They Carried, and now The Yellow Birds could quite possibly be the one to reflect the harsh reality of the Iraq War.
This is a book of friendship and loss; the novel is broken into two parts which are woven together. First there is the story of the friendship and serving together in the war and the other is of Private Bartle struggling to deal with the loss of his friend and returning from the war. There is a real beauty in the way Kevin Powers has melded the two together and the way he tries to help the reader understand the psychological mindset of a soldier turning from war. There is a wonderful part in the book where a bartender refers to Bartle as a hero and his reaction was basically ‘how can I be considered a hero if all I did was survive.’
I don’t want to sound to cliched with using words like beautiful, stunning, haunting and heart breaking but these words do seem very appropriate for this book. This is a debut novel for Kevin Powers and with his experience serving in the Iraq War and his poetry background, The Yellow Birds comes together for an emotional sensation. The proses of this novel are just wonderful and the characters really do seem to be well developed without showing too much.
I will admit I don’t read many war books but I’ve recently read two wonderful books on the Iraq war; this one and Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk (review up in two days). While both books were wonderfully thought provoking they were in two very different ways. If The Yellow Birds doesn’t become the stand out book for the Iraq war; like All Quiet on the Western Front, The Diary of a Young Girl or The Things They Carried I have a feeling it might be compared to the psychological mindset of war along with Catch 22 or Slaughterhouse-Five. This truly is a stunning book that made me tear up and feel for the soldiers fight in Iraq. Everyone should read this book.