I first read “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien in AP English Literature in high school. For an advanced English class we read a lot of books that year, but none of them stood out like this one to me. It was probably at the time the best book I had ever read.
The book is a unique collection of short stories that follow a narrative arc that is both a commentary on war and a story about “coming of age” in the midst of war. These men called into action, drafted into war, were still really children becoming men.
Twenty years later now since first reading this book, it is still as poignant today. I believe it is required reading for those “coming of age” as well as the “seasoned” adult. No matter what your stance on war, it is a challenging book on war, and what we ask those we send in to battle to sacrifice.