Manchester University
Oak Leaves

September 27, 2019

Book Review

Destinee Boutwell and her copy of 'The Things They Carried.'

Photo Provided by Destinee Boutwell

MU Book Review

Destinee Boutwell


I ironically picked up this novel right before Veteran’s Day last year and it has given me a new perspective on war and the sacrifices that Veterans make or have made, for us.

“The Things They Carried” is an autobiographical novel (meaning the author wrote it about himself) about a soldier’s experiences and reflections on the Vietnam War. It is a work of literature that can be analyzed and pulled apart sentence by sentence and something can be gained from every word. However, when I read it I realized that that wasn’t the spirit of the book. O’Brien wrote it for himself and for his men. Reader’s don’t need to gain something from it, or pull out the morale of the story, or develop a theme. It is a story that begs to simply be read.

I would give it a 3/5 stars for plot development. Many recreational readers get easily bored with novels that don’t grasp you by the imagination and pull you through each and every page with a tightly clenched fist. So this book may be a challenge to get all the way through. Each chapter tells a different story and they are not in chronological order which could cause a lot of difficulty in finishing the novel.

However, if one manages to get to the end, the book sits heavy on your soul. I give it a 5/5 for books that will change the way you think about the world; or more specifically war. One of my favorite quotes from the book was, “And in the end, of course, a true war story is never about war... It’s about love and memory. It’s about sorrow. It’s about sisters who never write back and people who never listen”.

“The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien is definitely a story I will be carrying with me for the rest of my life. Nearly a year later it is a book that sits heavily on my soul and has made me look at conflict in a new light.