Blurb (as on Goodreads):
An American pilot crash lands in the desert, unprepared for any situation that can’t be resolved with the After Eight mints in his survival kit. Hallucinating palm trees and dehydrating isn’t Major Ellie’s idea of a good time, but he figures it’s less of a hassle than another marital spat back home. In a neighboring refugee camp, Momo has his own problems; his money-making schemes aren’t working out as planned, his dog has ideas above his station and an academic researcher has shown up to study him for her thesis on the Teenage Muslim Mind. And then there’s the matter of his missing brother…
Red Birds gives a microscopic view of the life of people who are considered mere casualties or people who just want their tinned meat, a roof above their head, some salt and the safety of their children in the face of war that’s probably deciding the fate of the world.
The definition of War is different in refugee camps and so is the definition of grief. ‘Fugees’ are supposed to be kept safe and protected but Momo and his family have lost their home and their only son to the people who were supposed to protect them.
Then there’s Mutt, a dog who might have got his brains fried in a terrible accident but has more logic to his words than all humanity combined.
Major Ellie is another screwed up character. His life is all about bombing people in the morning and going back to his wife by evening. But now he is stuck in the same camp he was ordered to bomb. And he just wants to go home.
The writing is what captured my attention more than the characters because it is quite direct and makes an impact. The characters are all quite unique, especially the way they view the ideology of war. The story might sound repetitive at places, the same events being narrated multiple times and this sometimes gives the plot a halt, but then it picks up the pace super soon and all is well (not quite :p).
Red Birds has these characters contributing to the dark humor that prevails throughout the book. And hidden among those light words are emotions such as loss of a loved one or the perplexities of being the responsible one at the tender age of 15.