The novel Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers is a historical fiction novel that retells the memories of Robin Perry’s experience in Iraqi civil war. He was in a civil affairs unit, which is dedicated to protecting by standers in the war. Robin encounters various setbacks that try to slow down the progress of his unit such as the death of his close friend Jonsey. Walter Dean Myers portrayed his knowledge of the setting, aspects from the past, and made the plot very believable in the historical fiction novel Sunrise Over Fallujah.
Firstly, the historical, cultural, and geographical content involving the setting was portrayed accurately and was authentic. In addition, authors must complete detailed research of their settings before attempting to write a book of this genre.
If authors want “To create accurate and authentic settings in their books, they must research the time period thoroughly” (Read). Once the author has completed a detailed research of the setting they are looking to portray they can then start the writing process of their novel. Furthermore, an accurate setting makes the fictional part of the story believable and is what keeps the readers attention. The unit Robin was in had a “Route that was northward through the city and just out of it to Al Kazimayn mosque” (p.131, 14-15).
This is an example of accurate geographical knowledge of the setting. Moreover, making the setting accurate is important, but making it authentic is just as important. When the main character Robin and his crew raided a home they “Couldn’t tell if it was an apartment house or one big family” (p. 53, 7-8). Researching about how the civilian population lived, ate, and what artifacts were a common part of their lives can make the settings in the novel more authentic. This concludes the importance of the setting in a historical fiction novel.
Secondly, aspects from the past were used to help the reader see the development of the plot and fictional characters. Moreover, aspects from the past are important in a historical fiction novel because the readers see key elements develop. Many authors suggest that “Any aspect from the past can be useful to the present-day novelist attempting to reanimate it to serve as the context for character and plot development” (Facts). Plots and characters begin developing from the author’s research of aspects from the Iraq War. Furthermore, the war in Iraq was full of question, which created many aspects for Walter Dean Myers to choose from. Captain Miller was “Mad because there were kids in and playing around the school when they attacked it” (p. 100, 24-25).
Those types of features from the war in Iraq helped the author develop fictional characters. In addition, aspects from the war in Iraq can be used for the development of the plot. For example, at one point in the novel “The vehicle ahead of Robin’s crew made a sharp U-turn, ‘RPGs!’ Jonsey shouted; he braked to a skidding halt” (p. 101, 23). This commonly used tactic of the Iraqi military was a feature that Walter Dean Myers used to help develop the plot. After analyzing the novel, readers quickly realize the importance of using aspects to develop characters and the plot. Finally, the most important part of a historical fiction novel by far is the believability of the plot.
Moreover, the plot of a historical fiction novel is the most important part because this specific element of a novel is what keeps the readers attention. In a historical fiction novel “The fictional characters, settings, and plot events must be portrayed authentically as if they actually could’ve happened” (Read). This is a key component to make sure that everything in the “fictional” event is accurate and authentic to keep the readers attention. Furthermore, the plot consists of multiple parts in the story but the most looked forward to moment is the climax. The main character Robin was explaining that, “I had my head turned when the bus exploded. The impact went through my body and slammed me against the back of the Humvee” (p. 199, 22-24).
The climax of the novel is successful as it creates suspense and kept the reader focused on the rest of the novel. A key component of making the plot believable is using terms based on the event the author is writing about. When Robin’s division had to move they “Were supposed to go from the FOB (forward operations base), which was nothing but a few tents in the sand, to mining area about fifteen to twenty miles away” (p. 78, 2-4). Complex terminology such as “FOB” can keep the readers attention because it seems like the author knows what he writing about. Walter Dean Myers successfully made the plot believable and kept the readers attention.
The three major components to writing a historical fiction novel; knowledge of the setting, using aspects from the past, and the believability of the plot is what made Sunrise Over Fallujah a successful novel of this genre. This novel met ends with the criteria to writing a historical fiction novel, which is why it is recommended to readers that enjoy this genre. In the end, Walter Dean Myers put together a wonderful piece of literature that was successful in the historical fiction genre. Citations
“Historical Fiction.” Read Write Think. IRA/NCTE, 2013. Web. 29 Apr. 2013. “Historical Fiction.” Facts On File Companion to the British Novel: 20th Century, vol. 2. 2006. Bloom’s Literary Reference Online.
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