Here are stories set in and around Baghdad after the US-led invasion of 2003, as well as the stories of siblings and children left at home. The "fog" of war, the emotional and physical wreckage sustained (by soldiers and family alike), the draw of service, and the elusiveness of defining one's enemy are rendered powerfully in these complex, frightening, and timely novels for young adults.
Johnson, Angela. Sweet, Hereafter. 2010. (YA Fiction Johns.A)
Sweet leaves her family and goes to live in a cabin in the woods with the quiet but understanding Curtis, to whom she feels intensely connected, just as he is called back to serve again in Iraq.
Keller, Julia. Back Home. 2009. (YA Fiction Kelle.J)
Thirteen-year-old Rachel Browning understands that her father will be different after being injured in the Iraq War, but no one is prepared for the impact that his traumatic brain injury and other wounds have on the entire family.
Myers, Walter Dean. Sunrise Over Fallujah. 2008. (YA Fiction Myers.W)
Robin Perry, from Harlem, is sent to Iraq in 2003 as a member of the Civilian Affairs Battalion, and his time there profoundly changes him. Perry, aka "Birdy", suffers not only the uncertainty of the mission in Iraq, but silence from his father back home, who rejects his son's enlistment in the military. Myers vividly captures the tension in battalions that chase tips through cities, where at any moment exists the possibility of sniper fire or remotely-detonated IED blasts. He lays out at an even pace the frustrations of each military unit as they invade family homes, searching for an enemy who may or may not exist. This book is exceptional for its transporting power - you feel like you're there - and its complete cast of characters featuring a sensitive lead character as well as several female characters in roles from soldier to staff sergeant alike.
McCormick, Patricia. Purple Heart. 2009. (YA Fiction Mccor.P)
While recuperating in a Baghdad hospital from a traumatic brain injury sustained during the Iraq War, eighteen-year-old soldier Matt Duffy struggles to recall what happened to him and how it relates to his ten-year-old friend, Ali.
Novgorodoff, Danica. Refresh, Refresh : A Graphic Novel. 2009. (YA 741.5973 Novgo.D)
There's nothing Josh, Cody, and Gordon want more than their fathers home safely from the war in Iraq -- unless it's to get out of their dead-end town. Refresh, Refresh is the story of three teenagers on the cusp of high school graduation and their struggle to make hard decisions with no role models to follow; to discover the possibilities for the future when all the doors are slamming in their faces; and to believe their fathers will come home alive so they can be boys again.
Stein, Tamar. High Dive. 2008. (YA Fiction Stein.T)
With her mother stationed in Iraq as an Army nurse, Vanderbilt University student Arden Vogel, whose father was killed in a traffic accident a few years earlier, impulsively ends up on a tour of Europe with a group of college girls she meets on her way to attend to some family business in Sardinia.
Reinhart, Dana. The Things A Brother Knows. 2010. (YA Fiction Reinh.D)
"The Things A Brother Knows" is about Levi, a boy of Israeli descent who lives in the Boston suburbs and whose brother Boaz is home from Iraq after three years. Boaz, always the confident, winning personality in the family, shuts himself in his room and can be heard in despair at night, (he sits in his room looking at maps and screaming silently, whisper screaming). Boaz leaves home to walk across the country to D.C. and Levi decides to follow him and confront him, a courageous act that yields moving scenes, some scary back-story from Iraq (inspired by true events) and a moving ending.
Tharp, Tim. Badd. 2011. (On Order)
A teenaged girl's beloved brother returns home from the Iraq War completely unlike the person she remembers.
Vaughan, Brian K.. Pride Of Baghdad. 2006. (741.5973 Vaugh.B)
From one of America's most acclaimed comics writers a startlingly original look at life on the streets of Baghdad during the Iraq War inspired by true events. In the spring of 2003, a pride of lions escaped from the Baghdad Zoo during an American bombing raid. Lost and confused, hungry but finally free, the four lions roamed the decimated streets of Baghdad in a desperate struggle for their lives. In documenting the plight of the lions, Pride of Baghdad raises questions about the true meaning of liberation - can it be given, or is it earned only through self-determination and sacrifice? And in the end, is it truly better to die free than to live life in captivity?
Williams, Suzanne. Bull Rider. 2009. (YA Fiction Willi.S)
When his older brother, a bull-riding champion, returns from the Iraq War partially paralyzed, fourteen-year-old Cam takes a break from skateboarding to enter a bull-riding contest, in hopes of winning the $15,000 prize and motivating his depressed brother to continue with his rehabilitation.
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