The first book is Sleepers. It tells the story of four boys from semi different backgrounds from Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan. They were forced to rely on each other during a dark time in their childhoods, and as they grew into adults, they found themselves unwilling and unable to let the events of the past float into oblivion. The movie ending, of course, is more times than not the Hollywood ending some wish it would be. Reality includes tragedy and consequences. The movie doesn’t sugarcoat the issues within certain institutions as Kevin Bacon and Ron Eldard provided great performances.
The second book is Lone Survivor. I really enjoyed reading this book. I’m not a gung ho military person. Yet, I can understand the appeal for those who enlist and do support them. It was written by Marcus Luttrell who was as you can figure it out by the book title, the lone survivor, of a team of Navy SEALS whose mission went “south” in Afghanistan. It begins with Marcus’s physical training during high school and the “hell” he went through during SEALS training, which prepared him for what he would encounter on the Afghanistan mountains during his mission. It is more than anything a salute to his fallen brothers: Michael Murphy played by Taylor Kitsch, Danny Dietz played by Emile Hirsch, and Matthew Axelson played by Ben Foster. It is directed by Peter Berg and the ending credits is enough to make anyone realize the people who sign up for the military are some of the bravest out there, but so are their families who they leave behind when tragedy strikes as it does in any war.
The third book is A Mighty Heart written by Mariane Pearl. It’s about the kidnapping of the journalist, Danny Pearl. I will say despite everything that happened in this book there was still a message to be sought. A part of it speaks of the special relationship Mariane found in Danny during the beginning of their relationship and how a woman of her strength and resolve will go to any length to reunite with the love of her life. She goes to painful lengths to understand what transpired in a land far away. Through this process she finds some answers and relative closure. This story has obvious political undercurrents, but the relationships among family and friends serves as its basis. I would have chosen a different actress to portray Mariane, but Angelina Jolie is not distracting where it breaks a viewer’s concentration from the movie. I was not one of the producers as that went to Brad Pitt. It is still a gripping story when you strip away the makings of a movie and remember the events really did happen.
The fourth book is The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven written by Sherman Alexie. It is a collection of stories and seamlessly wrapped neatly with a satisfying ending. Alexie has such a gift of conveying the experiences of two young Native American men living in the United States. I didn’t want to put the book down. The reader gets the sense that Victor Joseph and Thomas Builds-the-Fire never loses sight of what it means to live, which is simply living whether it be through their relationships with family, intended reflections of the self, and the ties with the Reservation on which they live. The movie, Smoke Signals, lends to the viewer a refreshing dose of reality with injections of humor spread throughout. I laughed more than I should have given such a serious topic, but this only makes me want to watch this movie again.