Kevin Powers’ novel The Yellow Birds is a gripping read that I highly recommend.
Rarely will I consider reading a novel about the plight of a soldier in Iraq and I happened upon this quite by chance when perusing the brochure of Write In The Great Southern 2013; A writing and reading festival happening here in Albany this week.
The Yellow Birds has deeply affected my understanding of the heartbreaking psychological journey undergone by normal men, from their enlistment to serving in active duty to their return to civilian life.
Kevin Powers has created a character who could be the son or brother of any one of us.
Powers’ writing omits all the usual cliched images of war that news franchises and Hollywood have numbed our responses to. Instead, Power’s novel rises above these assumptions and thoroughly delves into the human experience of one soldier trying to make sense of his unfortunate predicament.
While I have always felt deep compassion for the civilians whose lives are torn apart by the ravages of war, The Yellow Birds has freshened my perspective and developed my empathy for the painstaking mental homework endured by those soldiers who would not otherwise be killers. An internal struggle that enables them to live and get on with the job, inevitably challenging their moral compass, often at great cost to their future and their family.