Invasion

Book review by
Joe Applegate, Common Sense Media
Invasion Book Poster Image
Searing account of teen D-Day soldier is powerful, gory.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Nearly everything that a young soldier can learn about infantry combat is described in this first-person account of a 19-year-old Virginian who survives the invasion of Normandy and the battle to take the strategic town of St. Lo. 

Positive Messages

"We were able to reach deep inside ourselves," says Woody, "and find the beasts within."

 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nineteen-year-old infantryman Woody Wedgewood learns that he can endure the hell of war, overcoming fear, fatigue, the loss of comrades, and sights of carnage, but it's at a high cost. Though he would never consider himself a hero, Woody never fails to do the duty at hand. 

Violence

Realistic killing and gore saturate this novel. The first thing the young hero sees when he leaves his landing craft is an arm floating in the water. Other men die around him; some "throw their arms into the air...Others fall quiety, as if they were tired."

Sex
Language

Profanity is used to accentuate the stress of battle. "S--t" and "f--k" are the most common swear words.  

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Invasion, by Walter Dean Myers, the Newbery Honor-winning author of the war stories Fallen Angels and Sunrise Over Fallujah, depicts the horror of World War II infantry combat as seen by a 19-year-old Virginian whose stolid adherence to duty is heroic but comes at great personal cost. "June sixth changed us all," the hero says of the invasion of Normandy. He and his comrades discovered "the beasts within," and he wonders if they will ever put the beasts away. Meyers includes Hispanic, African-American, and other American ethnic characters in his tale, though some seem tacked on. (An Author's Note describes integration in the U.S. Army in the 1940s.) The gore of battle is unrelenting and so are the challenges of duty. "I am so scared!" the hero tells us. "I am so scared!" The publisher recommends Invasion for readers 12 and older, but it may be a better choice for teens. 

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What's the story?

INVASION is a first-person account of the landing on Omaha beach on June 6, 1944, and of fighting through the hedgerows of Normandy to the strategic town of St. Lo. The narrator is 19-year-old Woody Wedgewood, an infantryman from Virginia. His deeds are not historic. Apart from using his drawing skill to create a map to show his unit how much it has accomplished, Woody does nothing unusual. He receives and writes letters home, eats, sleeps, and follows orders to keep the Germans from regrouping and knocking the Allies back. How an ordinary young man learns to overcome the horror of war is the real story here, and it is simply told. Here is Woody's prayer before his first battle: "Oh, Jesus, let me do okay. Please." The story ends in a hospital in England.

Is it any good?

Young readers whose ideas of war have been formed by video games and movies may appreciate this searing account of an unheralded 19-year-old infantryman during the Normandy invasion. The writing is beautifully spare like the heroism it depicts, with nobody doing great deeds and nobody giving up. Woody tells the reader how he feels while admitting he can't find the right words. "The bodies were piling up faster than our minds could handle them," he says. "There is no training in killing...There were just round targets to shoot at on sunny days in Virginia...."   

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can discuss how war is depicted in books and movies. How is Invasion different or similar? What do you think the author's main message is? 

  • What makes a soldier move forward into gunfire? What happens to a soldier who refuses? 

  • Interrogating a captured German soldier, an American commander first wants to know about the morale of the German troops. Why is morale so important?

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