When I come across books by Walter Dean Myers, I make an effort to get my hands on and read them, as Myers is such a prolific author and someone whom I think has contributed so much to the oeuvre of multicultural young adult literature. I think I was one of the few people incredibly excited about obtaining a copy of Invasion, Myers’ World War II D-Day book at BEA. Whatever though, I will keep beating my drum in praise and in hopes that more people will pick up these books and stock their classrooms with them – not to go all educational theory on you, but I really think that it’s encouraging to kids to see themselves reflected in books and that’s something Myers books do – with both their stories AND their covers.
If you like books about World War II, you might want to give Invasion by Walter Dean Myers a try. It’s kind of a departure from his usual books as the main character is a white young man instead of a black young man. That doesn’t detract from the story though. Invasion takes place in the European theater – for those who don’t know history terms that means instead of being focused on the Japan and Pacific bits of WWII, this is focused on the Europe bits. So, we open the book and the main character Josiah is in England undergoing some training. One day, a unit of Black soldiers appears at the base and Josiah is excited because his friend Marcus is among the unit. However, Marcus barely gets all that much face time in this book. Eventually, the book gets to the storming of Normandy or D-Day. Rather than romanticizing it, Myers remains true to the horrors of war and the impermenance of life on the battle lines. I think that perhaps this may be among the most serious of his work that I have read thus far. And really, that’s what this book is all about, the horror of the front.
I didn’t quite know what to make of Invasion’s Josiah Wedgewood at first. I mean, I am kind of used to Myers writing main characters of color so I thought it was an interesting choice that he shifted into writing about a white person. Yet, I think that this allows him to write about the racism that Josiah sees as someone who is white. Not racism against him, because you know, dominant culture and all, but racism against his friend Marcus and his unit. People don’t censor themselves around Josiah. Eventually I overcame my reluctance and thought that Josiah made for someone who is relateable and interesting — you see, he is an artist. He is fairly upper class – in that he can afford to live in NYC on his own for art school. But anyways, it was just interesting to see his character change as he continually experiences tragedy as his fellow soldiers are killed around him.
I have to say, I respect that WDM does not tell the same story over and over and over. I liked this book, but I kind of felt at arm’s length and that a lot of it was just telling me a plot instead of delving into feelings and emotions. HOWEVER. The author’s note at the end was fabulous, and that’s kind of changed my perceptions of the book because Invasion did take me a bit to get into and because there was a part where a soldier chooses to kind of censor himself instead of swearing and that just did not feel true to life. So, fence, I am on you.
Disclosure: Review Copy Obtained At BEA 2013
Other reviews of Invasion by Walter Dean Myers:
The Fourth Musketeer – “a good choice for reluctant readers”