Bennett's Book Nook

Marvin Lopez


The story follows Ryan Smithson during his junior year of high school. 9/11 and feels an urge to join the army. He has this feeling like if he doesn't who will, so he enlist after high school. He talks about going through boot camp, then going to Missouri for training, then finally talks about getting deployed to Kuwait and his convoys in Iraq. The book describes the hot days of 100 degrees and the cold nights of about 30 degrees. He talks about the subtle struggles of war like seeing all the kids struggle and missing his family, and the bigger struggles of war like firefights and losing a comrade in battle. Through all of this he manages to show another side of the war where their kids live in poverty and either look at the soldiers like heroes or demons. He says they would get in trouble if they are caught hanging around the kids, but Ryan sees it as showing a good side of America to the future of Iraq. Because those kids will grow up a decide whether or not to still fight against America. In the end this is an outstanding book and would recommend this book to someone researching the war in the middle east to get perspective of the life of a soldier.


1. The way our efforts are shunned, at first we don't care. In a way it makes us proud. It's humility.And selfless service is truly selfless if you're never recognized.
If I don't do something who will?

2. ...but my denial doesn't matter, because duty comes first.

3. Soldiers seem so durable, resilient, and so heroic in war novels. On the television screen they're afraid of nothing. I wonder if i have the same courage. Basic training is supposed to teach us bravery and fortitude.

4. But courage is also means being afraid, accepting a fear of the unknown. Anyone who claims to be unafraid as they sit in a barracks in-processing for war is either lying or crazy.

5. What does crying ever really do for us? It doesn't solve our problems. It doesn't make us run faster or shoot better. If anything, crying just delays the solution to our problem.

6. If I don't do something who will?

7. What does crying ever really do for us? It doesn't solve our problems. It doesn't make us run faster or shoot better. If anything, crying just delays the solution to our problems.

8. High school defines literature with terminology: metaphors, similes, and imagery. But experiences defines literature as more than words on a paper. Not just escape, but more important, words that have the power to heal.

9. This isn't a weapons cache- search mission during which we kick down doors looking for suspects. We pour concrete land where IED's explode to keep insurgents from planting more. No news reporters followed us around, because soldiers saving lives aren't as interesting as soldiers taking lives.

10. There's a certain romanticism that come with being young. Young men and women just released from high school are ready to take on the world. They want to save it. They try to for a while, but then they often get to a certain age and they give up because the world is a big place. It's impossible to fix, I think.

11. I guess that's the one good thing about dying young: you're remembered for your purity, vigor and spontaneity. Dying young you're remembered for your youth.

12. We're tired of the nagging and debating that adults do so well. We don't care anymore [...] the kids don't write to us about their political views. Call it ignorance. Call it unrealistic. We call it relief.