5 out of 5 stars
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At the age of 17, Andrew Coville was initially headed towards joining the army, but a persuasive Marine Corps recruiter altered the course of his plans. Several factors led to this decision, with his choice of the Marines specifically motivated by their reputation for confidence and aggression, qualities he believed would enhance his self-confidence. Additionally, the fact that his high school friend and confidant, Nick, had also enlisted in the Marines played a significant role. The two friends had envisioned grand plans that they enthusiastically discussed before boot camp and during their deployment. However, the events of the summer of 2009 would change everything; this is a poignant narrative of the events leading up to, during, and following that summer.
Summer 2009: A Journey of Self-Discovery Amidst the Afghanistan War, authored by Andrew Coville, is a moving, unique memoir. The reader is taken on an exhilarating journey as Andrew signs a four-year enlistment contract, serves in two deployments, and confronts the mental struggles he faced, particularly in the aftermath of the summer of 2009. Despite initial confusion, joining the Marines Corps provided Andrew with purpose, making him push himself to the limits to graduate and ultimately answer the call to defend his country. The narrative becomes even more poignant as Andrew perseveres through immense pain, leading to surgery just a week before his graduation.
In the preface, the author raises thought-provoking questions, establishing a subtle recurring theme throughout the book. The closing chapter and the afterword are equally engaging, with the author emphasizing the importance of vulnerability, seeking help, and sharing one's story to preserve crucial memories. Andrew correctly asserts that if a story matters to the individual, then it inherently matters. This marks a departure from the unspoken, widely held rule of only sharing stories likely to receive widespread approval. One notable aspect I appreciated about the book was the relatability of the journal entries. While each entry offers a unique perspective, a recurring pattern of thoughts and decisions characterizes many, which seems to be a shared trait among humankind.
Although the book primarily focuses on Andrew's personal journey rather than a broader exploration of war, I would have welcomed more of the author's thoughts on war in general. Additionally, there were a few statements that initially seemed controversial, but the author skillfully provided context afterward. One statement, referring to the secretary of defense as 'the commander-in-chief of the entire United States armed forces who reports directly to the President of the United States,' remains somewhat unclear, though, as the president is always the commander-in-chief. Nevertheless, the book deserves a perfect rating. I enthusiastically rate Summer 2009: A Journey of Self-Discovery Amidst the Afghanistan War five out of five stars. It is a story of self-discovery, a tribute to those serving in the defense forces and their families, and a powerful reminder that every life lost in war is valuable—it is beyond being a mere statistic. Moreover, it reminds us that seeking help is a sign of strength, challenging the misconception that it is a sign of weakness.
Summer 2009: A journey of self-discovery amidst the Afghanistan War
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