A seventeen-year-old soldier from central Virginia records his experiences in a journal as his regiment takes part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy and subsequent battles to liberate France.
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Grade 7-10-When Private Scott Collins's journal begins, he is preparing, along with thousands of other young men, for D-Day, less than five weeks away. When it ends, Scott, now 18, is again waiting to cross the English Channel; he has been wounded in France and has been promoted to sergeant-not simply because he is a good soldier, but also because he has proven to be a "survivor," when so many others have been killed. Readers observe Scott lose both his belief that the Allied invasion will end the war quickly and his innocence-he has seen hundreds die, some by his own hand. While no more graphic than the subject demands, this brief novel presents an accurate depiction of the horror of battle. The narrative voice is engaging and believable, with only a few lapses that sound like explanations provided for today's readers. Scott emerges as a likable and realistic character, one who grows from youth to manhood in a matter of weeks. Young teens who appreciated Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line ought to be moved and drawn to the Journal as well. A short epilogue gives thumbnail sketches of the major players' lives after wartime, and a photographic gallery helps set and expand the historical situation.
Coop Renner, Coldwell Elementary-Intermediate School, El Paso, TX
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Writing in May_ 1944, 17-year-old Collins has no inkling of the massive military offensive he is about to take part in. Myers captures nicely the shift from the fraternity and the boredom of life on the base to the terror and confusion of D-Day. The action and imagery are explicit but not exploitative as Collins survives the landing and pushes on through subsequent battles and skirmishes to secure the town of St. Lo, which is now little more than a pile of rubble topped by the ruins of Notre Dame. Myers' believable portrayal of Collins as a political naif may surprise readers who know far more about World War II than the soldier caught in its midst. The least successful elements here are the handful of letters to relatives and a girlfriend back home. They barely suggest a home life for Collins and don't reveal much of an inner life either. Though it doesn't dig beneath the surface of D-Day events, this My Name Is America series book is still an emotional read that should easily find an audience. Randy Meyer
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