The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

June 3, 2010
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Not judging a book by its cover is something I always hear people saying, whether in reference to meeting new people or, in my case, literally. I found this book lying around my bedroom collecting dust. When I picked it up and glanced at the cover, it seemed interesting even though I thought it would turn out to be just another old guy telling his story about the war. But I was far from right. There is much more meaning here than I thought.

When I started reading The Things They Carried, I was hooked almost instantly. I like stories, movies, and especially games about war. The book started by telling one soldier's story of the Vietnam War. What I wasn't expecting was the feelings and emotions expressed in a way that made me picture myself in his shoes.

The military has always fascinated me and I am thinking about joining. I've never really considered what it would be like to experience war firsthand. But some sections of The Things They Carried helped me realize that war is really no joke. Soldiers die in the line of duty all the time.

Besides the physical dangers of war, it also affects people mentally. The soldiers in these stories never forgot the horrible things they witnessed and were a part of, and their lives were never the same. That is something I really need to think about if I'm seriously considering joining the military. In the book, many soldiers didn't even want to go to war.

I am too young to join the service, but I know someone very close to me who has: my brother. He was deployed to Iraq a few years ago for just a month and a half. But in that short time he had many experiences there and I was amazed at all that happened. Some of his encounters were near-death experiences. When I read The Things They Carried, it made me remember the reality of my brother's stories. I can only imagine how the parents of every soldier must feel when their son or daughter goes to war – just like my parents felt when my brother went.

I normally don't think too deeply about how my life compares to a book, but this one made me think about the choices I will have to make in the very near future.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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