December 27, 2016
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After twelve months of military service in Iraq, Michael Anthony stepped off a plane, seemingly happy to be home—or at least back on US soil. He was twenty-one years old, a bit of a nerd, and carrying a pack of cigarettes that he thought would be his last. Two weeks later, Michael was stoned on Vicodin, drinking way too much, and picking a fight with a very large Hell’s Angel. At his wit’s end, he came to an agreement with himself: If things didn’t improve in three months, he was going to kill himself. Civilianized is a memoir chronicling Michael’s search for meaning in a suddenly destabilized world.
I really appreciated and enjoyed the honesty in Michael Anthony's Civilianized memoir.
"I'd had enough. It wasn't that I wanted to die; it was just that I didn't want to live." (pg 13)
Back home now after a year spent in Afghanistan, it's not exactly the joyous, celebratory homecoming many would expect. Being in a war, Anthony had to find certain ways to adapt, ways to fit with that life. Now, back home with everyday life, it's hard to adjust. Those things that make you a good soldier in awar, don't make for a good guy down the street at home.
Those were things I had heard and/or read before but in Civilianized we're given examples, the chance to see how the little things (talking to girls, dinner with family, going to bars, etc) can be different and difficult. This book - and its author - do a really nice job showing us what can be hard about a veteran's return home, things not necessarily unique to Anthony but also giving us his specific story, the things that happened to and with him.
This book was under HMH Children's Books (Zest Books and its imprint Pulp are distributed by HMH Books) but it is much more of an adult or, really, New Adult non-fiction read. It doesn't gloss over the author's difficulties upon returning home, in fact, they are much of the story, and that may be a bit much for younger readers. Michael Anthony is twenty-one at the time the book takes place, though, he joined the military at age seventeen and his former classmates and friends are college-age, it's something NA and older YA readers should read. And really think about.
I liked being able to read about Michael Anthony's return home from Afghanistan and war, his struggle to move back into civilian life, seeing how others treated him, learning from the facts and anecdotes both included.
The United States has had members of our military serving in war zones and/or other areas of conflict (nearly continuously, but in larger numbers) for over a decade but we often don't know much about the individual people or what life is like for them once they come home. Civilianized, through Michael Anthony's story, gives us a glimpse into that.
received for review from publisher, via NetGalley