This is, in many ways. a beautiful book. The language is rich and diverse without being pompous or self-conscious. The themes of war, loss, fear and purpose are handled with a deft, light touch that nevertheless refuses to look away or to pretend.
At the heart of the book stands Billy Lynn - nineteen going on twenty - unassuming - just coming to terms with life and what it holds for him - matured by the war in ways he's only beginning to understand - puzzled and troubled by the ferocity with which his fellow Americans talk about the war as the thank him for his service.
Billy is real and likeable. He's not a message or a symbol. He's just a guy in a shitty place trying not to screw up and hoping not to get killed today.
I've just finished the chapter with his one-day Thanksgiving visit with his family during his victory tour. This is when Billy finally understands what he has to lose. Yet he goes back to the Army, who will send him back to Iraq because that's what he signed up for.
This is a tough book to read but only because it seems so truthful.