Final Week: Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers Read-a-Long

Today is the final week of our group read-a-long of Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers.  This week we read pages 215-end, and we hope you’ll leave your comments and/or answers to the questions after the post.

We welcome you to post your thoughts on your blog and provide a link or just type your thoughts in the comments section of the discussion post; whatever works best for you. You can answer our questions or just discuss whatever you found most interesting in each section.

***Beware of spoilers***

1.  Were you as a reader prepared for the death of Jonesy? Why or Why not?

S:  I was more prepared than I expected, and in a way, my subconscious sort of knew that he wasn’t going to make it.  There’s something instinctual about how the members of Birdy’s unit keep personal things closer to the vest, but Jonesy had no problem pontificating about his dreams for a Blues club or the promises he made to stay out of direct combat.  These elements combined with his ability to step up when things didn’t seem right made him a likely candidate to get caught in some kind of crossfire.  I was saddened that he died, but it wasn’t unexpected for me.

2.  Birdy finally tells Marla he loves her.  How true do you think that emotion is or is it something else?  Why do you think he found it important to tell her at all?

S:  I think he felt as though he had to tell her because he didn’t expect to see her again, given the unpredictability of war and which soldiers ended up as casualties.  While I think he loved her as a comrade in arms and the solid presence she seemed to represent for him — anchoring him in reality and keeping a level head in combat — I don’t think he was truly in love with her.

3. At the end of the book, Birdy writes a letter to his Uncle Richie about what his experience in Operation Iraqi Freedom and he comes to a realization that his uncle did not talk about his Vietnam War experiences because there were no words that could accurately portray them.  If that’s so, why do you think that are so many novels, memoirs, and other books that try to explain or depict war?

S:  While I think its very hard for veterans of war to talk about their experiences, I also think its important for them to do so — not only for themselves and the cathartic experience it can provide, but also for others to see what war is and not just in an abstract sense.  Novels and memoirs and other books can provide a more personal connection to readers, who may not have experienced war first hand, allowing them to step in someone else’s shoes and feel that fear and constant anxiety.  However, it’s very different than the actual experience of war in which that fear and anxiety is caught up in the unexpected maiming, harm, and death that comes with combat.

If you have discussion questions for the final section, we’d love to hear them. Also, please feel free to offer your final thoughts on the overall book.

Post your own questions or comments here or on your own blog.  We’d love to read your thoughts….

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5 Comments

  1. […] Click here for this week’s questions.  […]

  2. 1. I can’t say I was surprised. To tell the truth I was hoping someone would die to show that war can be tragic. Jones was the logical choice of the three main characters. I have to say that I had not invested in the character.

    2. I have to agree that it was not real love. Probably was due to the stress of the situation.

    3. Totally agree. Although I feel this novel does a poor job reflecting what the actual soldiers went through.

  3. Kevin, I was sad that this was not as good as Fallen Angels.

  4. I have to say the book was very disappointing. This was the second time I read it and it did not get better. It seems obvious Myers was trying to recapture the magic of “Fallen Angels”, but this book is a pale imitation of it. FA is one of my favorite books so I may be a little harsh, but anyone reading both would have to say SOF is much inferior. Part of this is that FA is PG-13 and SOF is G-rated. This makes the soldier talk unrealistic. But mainly the main characters are second rate. Jonesy is a painful attempt to recreate Peewee and it is frankly embarrassing. And although Perry is no Rambo, at least he is not a wimp like Birdy. Next time please consider doing the classic war novel by an author rather than a half-ass attempt to update it for a newer war. In spite of that, I did enjoy this readalong and thank you for hosting.

  5. Kevin, yes, I agree that FA was much better. I much preferred that to this. I was disappointed, but enjoyed doing the read-a-long. I hope you’ll join us in April for the read-a-long for the French-and-Indian War: I Am Regina by Sally M Keehn


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