THURA’S DIARY is one of my 888 Challenge books.

We’ve all seen the headlines. We know about Iraq, and what happened there in 2003, what’s still going on there today. We know the phrase “Shock and Awe,” and what it means. Or do we? We think we do, from what we see in the newspaper and on television. But there’s so much more to it than bringing down a dictator. On the news, we see that there’s violence in Iraq, but mostly we’re supposed to see the good things: the women with ink-stained fingers after voting, the statue of Saddam being toppled in Baghdad.

There’s so much more to it than that. Shock and Awe doesn’t tell you how many people have died as a result of what George W Bush has done in Iraq. I don’t mean soldiers; their deaths are tragic, but few compared to civilians. The people of Iraq have been freed from Saddam, but they have lost stability, the feeling of being safe outside their doors.

Just ask Thura Al-Windawi. This nineteen-year-old Baghdad girl kept a diary all through the days leading up to the invasion, to the coalition forces taking Baghdad, to losing people she loved in the war, to returning home. Her diary shows us what was going on that the media didn’t tell us. We were told that Bush was doing a good thing by bringing democracy and freedom to Iraq. In Thura’s eyes, the coalition forces may have brought freedom, but the Iraqi people saw it as a freedom from law and order. Soon, it wasn’t just coalition forces causing the deaths of Iraqis; it was Iraqis killing Iraqis. Instability and violence became the norm. They had trouble getting supplies for her diabetic sister, Aula. Food and water were scarce. Thura had walked the streets safetly with her friends before March 2003. She didn’t wear a headscarf. She was a student. Her life was firmly middle-class; she never worried about the basics. She lived a life quite similar to the lives of many Americans. And then, there was the war, which changed everything.

Reading this diary, I was reminded of the many stories about war, the war diaries of young people throughout history, from the most famous, The Diary of Anne Frank, to Zlata’s Diary, and all the others. It’s not something we think of as happening now, as something that could be happening to us, but THURA’S DIARY shows us all too clearly that we could be.

The impact of this book on anyone who reads it will be tremendous. It’s written well, but simply, honestly, and powerfully. Thura knew when writing at least part of this that it was going to be published, which does subtract a little from the authenticity of its being a diary, but it’s still an important book. It’s incredibly powerful and moving and thought-provoking. And terrifying, to think that this is what is going on as a result of what our president has done, but also to think that it could so easily be you or I, born in another country or if things had gone a little differently and America had not risen to be the world superpower that it is today.

I know I could be aggravating some people here; my grandparents, for example, like to think that coalition forces have done nothing but good for the Iraqi people, and would hate to have that bubble burst by reading something like THURA’S DIARY, something true, something written by a normal Iraqi. People who refuse to believe the horrors of war, no matter if the cause for the war is good or bad, are those who especially need to read this book. It’s an important side of the story to see, so I urge you all, read this book.