Although a book for ages 12 and up, Invasion gripped this adult as well. There are milestone events in World War II, and June 6, 1944 – D-Day – is definitely one of them. This book opens on May 14, 1944. Josiah Wedgewood, a young soldier from Virginia, is in the 29th Infantry, and after many false alarms, his company joins the invasion of Normandy. Today, D-Day marks a turning point in the war, but Invasion reminds us that victory came at the cost of many lives. And there was no relief for those who survived it. The battered remnants of Josiah’s company fight their way across France, with orders that send them back and forth, always with more casualties and ultimately hollow victories as they retake the ruins of a town.
Josiah is the everyman in this war. He finds friends and enemies among his fellow soldiers, and both are mowed down in battle. He runs into an African American friend from his hometown, whose skin color puts him in the Transportation Corps, treated as a second-class citizen. Letters from his mother and a girl from home keep him connected, but he realizes that some of the horrors he sees can never be shared.
Myers has written an exemplary book about war (not his first – he’s published other young adult books about the Vietnam and Iraq wars). Although “boots on the ground” is an overused phrase these days, that’s what came to mind. This is what war is for those in the middle of it: confusion, fear, exhaustion, adrenaline, and a chilling introduction to adulthood for young men.