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When I Was a Soldier

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2010


    This story is called "When I was a soldier" by Valerie Zenatti. It's about a girl who originaly was raised in france but she moved to Isreal with her parents. Every teenager at age 18, when done with school, go into the military. So before they turn 18, they need to be organized and have their beds done when ever waking up. Also they need to be asked only once to do something. Basically they have to act as if they were already in the military. She is bright and loves to read and write. She feels that she has alot of preasure on her because being a soldier has more responsibilities and she does'nt want to screw anything up. Her best friends are two russian immagrants, Yulia and Rahel. Before going into the military her boyfriend breaks up with her. I think it is amazing that she could even do that because she has to leave her friends and her boyfriend just dumped her and now she has to go into the military. They believe that if the boys and girls serve two years they will become real men and women. In the end she lives happy and feels like a true woman. I kind of liked this story because I feel like its the other side of Anne Franks story.

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  • Posted April 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    **** Do you like a descriptive, engaging read?

    The memoir, When I was a Soldier by Vålerie Zenatti it was a great book and kept me reading. This book really came out and told you the difference, feelings, emotions inside and out for Vålerie as a soldier. The overwhelming life changes and conflicts that Vålerie is going through is a big change for her. She is going to soldier camp training with no friends or family beside her, and doesn't know much about the life ahead of her. At the beginning of the book she is what seems like a normal teenage girl living a normal life with normal friends. But just as you begin to read on, you see her near future unravel pretty quickly.

    This book is a good read for girls into a reality story from the ages 10 and up. I would rate this 4 stars. Because it is a descriptive, detailed, and engaging read but it has a few confusing word choices. In my opinion, this book is an overall great learning experience for Vålerie, as well as for the reader. With the detail and description the author provides you with, you feel her pain and excitement as she is going on in her life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2008

    A book for all ages

    When I was a Soldier by Valerie Zenatti was a very different book than I¿m used to reading, most books about war are filled with action and heroism, but this book was totally different. The memoir doesn¿t focus on battles and fighting, it revolves around a girl soldier in `peacetime¿. It begins with her just getting through high school and taking a test called the `Bac¿, which are a series of test not unlike our finals for high school. What it isn¿t clear whether or not Valerie had to do military service but was excited about it, or if she wanted to do it willingly regardless. When I was a soldier was definitely intended for young people or teenagers and without doubt was meant for a foreign audience and not for those that live in Israel because it gives an idea of what it would be like for a foreigner immigrating there. In fact it gives an outsiders experience of the situation. What¿s more is the fact that Valerie herself is an outsider being a French Jew it gives her a somewhat complex relationship to her Israeli identity and nationality. It is not surprising that Valerie struggles to come to terms with many of Israel's most daunting political and social problems, such as its relationship to the Palestinian people. Many times throughout the book she repeatedly questions what the Israeli government is doing to the Palestinians although she is enthusiastic about her job in the military where, ironically her job involves monitoring them in a secret outpost. When I Was A Soldier is most powerful when it manages to examine these difficult issues for their emotional weight on a girl entering adulthood, and not in terms of their general political importance. Although the teenage aspect makes the book easier to relate with the fact that it¿s a teenage girl gives it a different spin on situations, which could probably do with less dramatization, nonetheless this book is filled with situations that I can relate to such as being in high school and just dreaming of where and when I will get to basic training and then where I will be posted after. What¿s more what Valerie goes through faces many young people today and I would definitely recommend this book to them. Apart from the relationship that the reader can have between reader and main character about the teenage years When I Was A Soldier also touches base on the truth about life when it comes to friends and family, and that is the separation of the two. Even today military families are strained due to one or even two family members drifting apart as a result of war, being shipped to Iraq Afghanistan and other war zones. Valerie even points out that her friends don¿t seem to be so close anymore rarely hearing from each other, this coupled with her rigorous course at the secret service base where no one was allowed to even talk about it lead Valerie to have some kind of a panic attack that they would not tell he why she he had it, even after her superiors kept pushing her to her limits. All of us have had parents and can at one time or another relate to what Valerie was going through, having someone pushing you to get better grades, to run faster, or become stronger. Being challenged is good, but there must be a limit somewhere, I felt a little disgusted at the way the commanding officers push only one person in the entire unit singling her out and pushing her to the brink. There is one significant reason I liked this book and it is also the reason I chose it, on the back cover it tells that girls and boys or in this case men and women are equals even if they don¿t receive the same training, but that doesn¿t matter in a job the most qualified person gets the job done, gender has no say in who is chosen for a position and it is demonstrated in Valerie¿s post where there are male and female officers ordering other male or female enlisted of lower rank. This is definitely a must read book for anyone not just for young adults.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2007

    Gloriously Captivating

    This book is about a French woman named Valerie who is being recruited in a military. It includes her memoirs and her life meeting new people and some old friends. I found it quiet enjoyable and it was a page-turner. If you enjoy reading memories, this book is splendid. I could really relate myself to various of her situations. This book made me laugh and cry. I enjoyed it enormously. Something I don't think was too amazing was the title. I don't think it was deep enough for this book. It wasn't very effective when it came to hooking the reader. A reader usually judges a book by its cover, no matter what anyone and/or everyone else says. The title is a very vital piece, and must be chosen wisely. A reader wants to see the title and be amused by it, but for When I Was a Soldier, the reader should read what it is about. When I saw this book, I really liked the cover, and I found the half-face amusing, and I decided to read it. While reading this novel, I found many strong vocabulary words, and some that could help me in school. Many times, these words were in French, and would fascinate me, as I love foreign language. This story has many good aspects: the cover, vocabulary, and the content which were all amazingly fantastic. I definantly recommend this book to the ages 12 and up.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2007


    This book was great! It is a very interesting and fun to read. Once you start you can't stop, really.

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