J.L. Sutton's Reviews > The Yellow Birds

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
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it was amazing
Read 3 times. Last read March 18, 2018 to March 21, 2018.

Kevin Powers’ The Yellow Birds is a powerful novel which centers on a soldier fighting in the Iraqi War and what awaits him when he returns to civilian life in Virginia. Powers’ opening lines—“The war tried to kill us in the spring”—exemplifies how difficult it is for soldiers to figure out where they fit into the dying going on around them. It wasn’t other soldiers or countries or their leaders or politicians, it was the war that tried to kill them. Thus begins a poetic and brutal account of how war leaves all of us scarred.

Fate is a central theme. Whether soldiers have any control of their fate comes down to whether they are individuals or numbers (according to the order in which they are/will be killed). The idea that they are a number detaches them from the horror and fear of the war around them. In effect, they are already dead. They might as well relax and wait for the bullet that is fated to kill them. They don’t want to believe this; however, they can’t fully believe that they are in control either.
This sense of powerlessness is echoed in other war novels like Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front. The other novel which I kept thinking about while reading The Yellow Birds was Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony. Silko’s protagonist, Tayo, comes back from WWII and needs to be healed. Powers protagonist, Bartle, returns from the Iraq War in desperate need of healing; however, there is no ceremony to heal Bartle from a war which has alienated him from everything he knew.

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Aside, I met and introduced Kevin Powers at an author event in Wyoming in April. He talked about his transition from soldier to writer, why he wanted to recount his experience of the war in fiction and his approach to writing. He was super nice, great to meet him! I highly recommend The Yellow Birds. I believe Powers has a great career ahead of him!
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
Finished Reading
March 18, 2018 – Started Reading
March 21, 2018 – Finished Reading
May 31, 2018 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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message 1: by Paula (new)

Paula Kalin Terrific review, JL!

J.L.   Sutton Thank you, Paula!

message 3: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Brisson How great that you got to introduce an author you admire.

J.L.   Sutton It was a fantastic opportunity!

message 5: by Martha (new) - added it

Martha Nancy wrote: "How great that you got to introduce an author you admire."

I agree!

J.L.   Sutton Introducing fantastic authors has been wonderful! Thanks, Martha!

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