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When I Was a Soldier

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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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