Book Review: Anatomy of a Soldier by Harry Parker

What’s it about?

Captain Tom Barnes is leading British troops in a war zone. Two boys are growing up there, sharing a prized bicycle and flying kites, before finding themselves separated once the soldiers appear in their countryside. On all sides of this conflict, people are about to be caught up in the violence, from the man who trains one boy to fight the infidel invaders to Barnes’s family waiting for him to return home.

We see them not as they see themselves, but as all the objects surrounding them do: shoes and boots, a helmet, a trove of dollars, a drone, that bike, weaponry, a bag of fertilizer, a medal, a beer glass, a snowflake, dog tags, an exploding IED and the medical implements that are subsequently employed.

 

My thoughts

Every so often a book crops up on your radar that you really makes you think and puts everything else in to perspective for you and after a run of ok meh reads this one really made me sit up and take notice and realise that, actually, my life isn’t so bad.

The book acknowledges that it is loosely based on a true story but you only have to watch your local news, or read a paper, etc to realise that this book could have been written about a number of wounded-in-action servicemen and women and therefore every chapter, every page rings true.

Each chapter is told from the perspective of various inanimate objects and on the whole it’s a very impressive way of telling the story.  I can’t remember the last time a book made me feel as emotional as this: tearful, sympathy, anger to name a few.  It even made me feel sad when a piece of bandage was thrown in the bin!

There’s a lot of this book that isn’t easy to read; there are scenes of an IED explosion,  amputation and bomb preparation so will not be to everyone’s taste.  Some lines will really take your breath away.

“I had changed the body’s proportions forever.  It no longer filled the space it should.”

This line really choked me up – I could clearly visualise the scene! 🙁

I just had one small issue with the way the book was written and that was that the objects would often comment on the feelings of the people around them.  Whilst I was totally on board with how everything was else was described,  an object describing a scene around it and recounting stories told etc, it couldn’t possibly comment on a person’s feelings (I know how daft this sounds given the way the whole book is told!) but there we have it, deduct one star AND it really wasn’t needed, there was so much raw emotion in all the other lines.  Overall, an impressive read.

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