Based on the real-life experiences of the author, "When I Was a Soldier" documents 18-year-old Valerie's two year stint in the Israeli army. Military service is mandatory for everyone in Israel, even those who have recently immigrated, such as Valerie, who is French. Valerie's intense patriotism for her adopted homeland does not keep her from internally questioning her life in the army, and feeling as though she has dual personalities-- Valerie the civilain, and Valerie the soldier girl. The narration does a great job of letting the reader see both, as well as what this conflict is doing to Valerie's mental well-being.
This is a wonderful story, both as a documentary of a nation that most people don't know a whole lot about, and as a memoir of an intriguing teenager. It's very easy to put yourself in Valerie's shoes and think of the "what ifs"-- easy, and worthwhile.