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When I Was a Soldier

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  482 ratings  ·  83 reviews
What is it like to be a young woman in a war?

At a time when Israel is in the news every day and politics in the Middle East are as complex as ever before, this story of one girl's experience in the Israeli national army is both topical and fascinating. Valerie begins her story as she finishes her exams, breaks up with her boyfriend, and leaves for service with the Israeli
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Paperback, 240 pages
Published January 23rd 2007 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens (first published August 22nd 2002)
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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Elizabeth
Oct 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mc-international
When I Was A Soldier by Valérie Zenatti, is an autobiographical account of her two years of service to the Israeli National Defense Service. All students when they reach eighteen are required to enlist for two years. In this story, which starts as Valérie is finishing up her school exams and heading off, tells not only of what it is like to serve in the military, but includes all the things that teenage girls go through at this age, if they were headed off to college. She must deal with being ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
This fascinating book describes two years in the life of an Israeli girl as she serves her compulsory stint in the Israeli army. I can't imagine teens here in the U.S. entering the army right out of school and before entering college. It's clear from Valerie's memoir that the army changed her, matured her. I could only imagine how I would cope if I were thrust into the same situation. Her details of the training she received before and after being assigned to the intelligence service made me ...more
Carol
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very interesting book.
Michelle Lombardi
Feb 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
When she wrote When I Was a Soldier, Valerie Zenatti was an 18 year old girl in the Israeli army. She was completing her mandatory two years of military service that begins for all Israelis, men and women alike, when they turn 18. Her memoir recounts the thoughts, feelings, and actions that she experienced during her service.

Zenatti’s story provides a great way for teens to see the world from a different perspective. An American teen probably can’t even imagine mandatory military service,
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529_Gary
Nov 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1-international
Valerie is about to start her mandatory service in the Israli Armed Forces. They need to serve for two years. She is only 18 years old. Before and during her time in the army she has to deal with the loss that she feels over her boyfriend. She also has to deal with not having her best friends and family in her life during her time of service. She ends up being selected to work in a intelligence unit. I really enjoyed reading this book because the protaganist is very interested in learning. She ...more
Chelsey

It’s a memoir of a girl, Valèrie Zenatti, who was born in France but lives in Israel from the age of thirteen and is thus drafted into the army. The book very expertly juxtaposes her pre-army life with her experiences in the service. I saw myself and my friends in her, and had to imagine what our pampered, in college selves would do were we forced into military service. Not fare well, I think.

The book is very well written, jumping between diary entries and narrative, but all first person. It is
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Librariann
Feb 24, 2009 marked it as to-read
Shelves: failed-attempts
Nope.
Rita Jillabi
Good Reads
When I Was a Soldier
Valérie Zenatti


Rita Jillabi
Sunday, March 15, 2015
7-1
Chapter 1-6


When I was a Soldier by Valérie Zenatti, is an autobiographical account of her two years in the Israeli National Defense Service. At the age of eighteen, all the students are required to enlist for two years at the Israeli National Defense Service. This story starts as Valérie is finishing up her school year, she is preoccupied with the final preparations for her bac exams. While telling the reader not
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Nolan
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
In the book "When I Was a Soldier" by Valerie Zenatti is a book about Valerie and her friends dealing with a problem that most teenage girls don't have. At age 18, all Israelites are enlisted into the military. This book gives the personal side of what these young soldiers went through while they balanced their futures with battling on the front lines. I really enjoyed this book because the characters were authentic, detailed. That is definitely the strong suit of this book I actually felt for ...more
August Druzgal
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
When I Was a Soldier, by Valerie Zenatti, is an autobiography of her life in the army. It begins with her stressing over tests, boys, and other normal things. After this, she is required by the country to go to the military. Throughout the challenges thrown at her in this, she begins to take a new perspective on her life. What mattered before isn't as important now.

I thought this book was good, because it flipped back and forth from her diary to her own thoughts. This style helped me see what
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Callie Hennessy
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
As an eighth grade girl, this inspired me. It gave girls power and independence. This book is about a girl named Valerie who ends up fighting in an Israeli war. I don't want to spoil it so I'm just going to say it was a bold move that Valerie made but it was clearly worth writing about. I think this would be a good recommendation for people who enjoy memoirs and/or autobiographies.
Skyler
Mar 24, 2017 rated it liked it
When I was a Soldier Review

Valérie Zenatti is the main character in the book I chose called When I was a Soldier by Valérie Zenatti herself. Where Valérie lives, it is mandatory that all students when they come of age 18 enlist in the Israeli army for at least 2 years. Valérie being a teenage girl in all, is still finishing school, keeping up with her friends and staying in enough contact with her boyfriend. As times change however, being enlisted into the army changes her whole mindset which
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Rebecca Owen
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Julie
Mar 25, 2016 rated it liked it
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Charlie O'mara
Sep 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing

Valerie Zenatti is just like any other Israeli teenager. She has dreams, a boyfriend, and an evolving sense of self. But she and all her other friends know that their time is coming. One day they will get the call, just as their fathers and mothers did, informing them that it is their turn to serve in the Israeli army, TSHAL.
Once Valerie joins the army she has almost no free time. She must wake up at 4:30 am, be ready to go by 5:00, and does not get any breaks except during meals. The day ends
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Micaiah
Oct 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
The book When I was a Soldier By valerie Zenatti, follows the young Valerie in the 1970s on here way to become a soldier. Throughout this non-fiction biography you'll read about how being a soldier in Israel at the time was like. All from a girl's point of view. This book tells in great details how she felt with additional diary entries about the things she did while being in the army.

Some things I enjoyed while reading include. How much detail there are within this book. Things like describing
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Debbie
Dec 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, memoir, military
"When I Was a Soldier" was an interesting memoir. Valerie was born in France in 1970, immigrated to Israel with her family when she was thirteen, and joined the Israeli army five years later when she turned eighteen. The memoir focused as much on her personal life as on her training.

The first fourth of the memoir was about the pressure of taking her bac exams...especially since her boyfriend had just broken up with her. The next part--about half of the book--was about her training. Most of this
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Liralen
This reminded me, oddly, of Biting Anorexia -- not the content, but the voice; they both seem like very bright and moderately quirky young women, the sort who would, I don't know, be internally devastated over something but manage to raise one (perfectly plucked?) eyebrow silently, giving away nothing.

In any case, I know very little about the Israeli army, so this was something of an introduction. I knew already that women don't have the same army experience that men do (though I suspect that's
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Emma
Dec 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: eng-420
NONFICTION/INFORMATIONAL CATEGORY

I still am surprised when I think about this memoir, knowing that I liked it and I still don't know why. Maybe it's because she's french, and I love everything french. Or maybe it's because she was an Israeli soldier and I love to hear about Israel. Maybe it's a combination of the two. Although it is a translation from french, and I do feel that as I read, I liked the realness of Valerie. She seemed like a completely normal eighteen-year-old girl who didn't
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Sarah Maddaford
The only part of this book that I object to is that it is fairly automatically considered non-fiction. I'm sure that the author had her facts checked; but, because of the nature of memoirs, there are bound to be some inaccuracies. I refuse to believe that she remembers the conversations with her friends during those years so well. I guess that's why she used single quotation marks instead of double quotes, but it does make the book read more like a story and less like an actual account of ...more
Landon Hans
Jan 23, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was very interesting and really put into perspective what life is like for a teenager in the Israeli army. It was sad in the beginning but then Valerie showed us how she was hopeful. This hope helped her get through her time in the army and made the book more enjoyable. It was a little confusing and had a lot of Israeli terms that were never full defined. Otherwise, it was a pretty good book, with a good amount of action taking place.
Mark
Jun 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed Valerie's memoir about her transition from a 'normal' 18yr old girl to an Israeli soldier. It was interesting to read about the influence Israel's mandatory conscription has on the civilian population (sleepy, heavily armed teenage soldiers are a commonplace sight on public transportation) . Whereas most girls at that point in their life would be concerned about college, Valerie and her friends wonder about what branch of the IDF they will wind up in.

Valerie's service starts a
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Amber
Nov 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
"When I was a Soldier" is a memoir by Valerie Zenatti. It is intended for children ages 12 and up or advanced readers (A). Valerie Zenatti tells the story of her life in Israel and being a woman in the service and at war. She explains how it was mandatory that she serve in the Israeli military for 2 years, she was 18 years old. Even though she is excited to embark on the experience for several reasons, Valerie tells stories of losing touch with and missing friends. She has a bit of an internal ...more
Jean
Jul 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: batchelder
The library has this book in the adult non-fiction section and I had to think about that a while. This was a Batchelder Award Honor Book, which has an upper age level of 14. I think that teens would "get" this book, but I don't know if they would pick it up. I don't think adults will either pick it up or identify with it. But considering that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to always be in the news, I think this is a book that could be read on a variety of levels.

The author lived in
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Sharon
Jun 12, 2014 rated it liked it
We in the United States take great pride in our military branches, our ancestors who served, our husbands, wives, partners and parents that serve today, and our children that choose to enlist in this very special show of arms for, and dedication to, their country.

But sometimes...I think in our great patriotic spirit we forget that other countries are doing the same thing. Taking pride in the people who protect and serve them, knowing at any point they could be asked to give up their life for
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Ryan Austin
Sep 24, 2010 rated it liked it
I am still in the process of reading When I Was A Soldier, but i think that it is a very in depth story of this women's experience. The main character in this story is Valerie. In this book Valerie tells us her experience being in the service, she is not the only one who plans on/has joined the service. Her friends Rahel, and Yulia plan on joining when they turn eighteen. Also Valerie's sister is currently in the service as Valerie is being placed in a training camp. I like how in depth this ...more
Siripong/isb
Nov 03, 2010 rated it liked it
When I Was a Soldier is an memoir of Valerie Zenatti, a girl who serve the Israelis army for two years. The memoir shows her different thoughts, feelings, and actions that she experienced during her service. It is very interesting to see Zenatti's perspective on the ongoing war, the Israelis and the Palestinians. She shows us her everyday life as a soldier and her thought on different issues. She addresses many issues related to teen life, such as breakup, friends and family relationships.
The
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Cody Poinsett
Oct 25, 2010 is currently reading it
The book When I was a soldier is good so far and i am only about 4 chapters in. This girl moved from france to Israel. Like all girls in Israel they all have to join the military for a selective time. She has 1 sister and she is already in the military at a very nice base. Her boyfriend broke up with her a few days before she leaves for the military. Her ex-boyfriend lives in Jerusalem. She lives in a horseshoe shaped apartment buildings. The apartment is called "Residential area for new ...more
528_Kristin
Nov 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1-international
Valerie, 18, is about the enter the Israeli army for mandatory service. She leaves her life of friends and an ex-boyfriend to fight for her country. (She is an immigrant from France at the age of 13, but now lives in Isreal). Her training and service, although not in actual combat, makes her question her service and country. As she sees the hatred and poverty in Palestine, she can't help but try to discover why she is there.

During this time, she is also learning to make new friends, accept her
...more
Marty
May 04, 2011 rated it liked it
I skimmed this book in order to help Anna with her English project, where she had to say if Valerie was a hero or not. I helped Anna find evidence that she was not a hero but just an ordinary person.
Everyone in Israel has to serve in the military. Valerie went when she was 18. She was scared, but survived the experience. Anna really liked the book. I liked it, but I thought it was kind of superficial. It is a YA book, and pretty simple. I did like reading about the experience of being in the
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Valérie Zenatti was born in Nice on April Fool’s Day 1970. When she was thirteen she went to live with her parents in Israel, where she did her national service, which inspired her memoir, When I was a Soldier. Even now she doesn’t go out without her survival kit — these days of a book, a notepad and a pen. Valérie now lives in Paris, where she works as a translator of Hebrew. She is also writing ...more
“They know the autumn's the peak season for harvesting, and that the crop is eighteen-year-olds.” 3 likes
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