The Navajo Code Talkers were not a subject I remember being covered much whenever I had studied World War II in school and so this seemed like a good way to introduce myself to the topic beyond online articles and such. Apparently Navajo Code Talkers Day was earlier this month (August 14th) so this ended up being a fitting read after all.
The book tells us the story of a fictional Ned Begay who tells the reader of his life from being sent to a boarding school and then eventually joining the military to become a code talker during World War II. We get bits and pieces of his life but the largest chunk of the book is dedicated to his time in WWII.
I have to say, while initially the book was quite interesting (although it was fiction it was still a good read for his experiences at the boarding and then high school). Leaving his family only to visit during the summer and then getting high enough marks to go on to further education was a fascinating read. As this book is also geared towards a YA audience I was also relieved to see that other, darker experiences such as sexual abuse not described as part of Ned's time (although he does describe corporal punishment such as having his mouth washed out with soap for speaking Navajo or being beaten with sticks as well as his military training).
Once he moves onto his service during WWII the book becomes distinctly less interesting. His training to become a code talker was still informative but I don't really care for war books very much. It was also a bit disappointing because Ned is not part of the group that forms the Navajo code talkers for WWII. It's understandable because he was too young but that would have been also quite interesting to read about (although perhaps a bit out of the scope for the author).
I did learn a bit so I didn't mind reading this. But it wasn't what I thought it would be. It would be a good addition to a school library. Amazon indicates it's for age 12 and up and that sounds about right. A mature younger child might be able to handle the material as well, but it does depict a war its violence plus some of the physical abuse at school so that's a heads up. Otherwise I'd recommend borrowing from the library.