It's rare that I read a book in about one day, but today I completed A Journal for Jordan, which has been selected as the summer reading book for incoming freshmen at Point Park University.
The book, as you might already know, is a personal story about a woman, the military man she loves, his death, their child and the journal the father writes for his son while he is stationed in Iraq. You could describe it as a love story, but it also contains a robust discussion about personal values and commitment.
It's an easy read, and one that I hope will resonate with our students.
I confess I was far more interested in Dana Canedy's discussions about journalism, which not an essential element of the book is nevertheless relevant to understanding who she is and how she handles the death of Charles King. (For those who don't know, Ms. Canedy is a senior editor at the New York Times).
I think the reader who also cares about journalism will find chapters 15 and 16 especially relevant. Ms. Canedy is told by the U.S. military that Mr. King died instantly when an IED exploded directly under the tank in which he was riding. That answer is not sufficient for her, and she takes a leave of absence from the newspaper to learn more about Mr. King's death.
What she finds becomes the basis of some important questions, and these are the kinds of questions I intend to ask my students in the fall. They include:
1. Why is it important to know the details associated with a soldier's death during war?
2. Does Ms. Canedy's position with the New York Times allow her access to military officials that many other people don't have? If so, is this fair?
3. Is it appropriate for her to draw her own conclusions about how Mr. King died?
4. How does the way she attempts to resolve the discrepancies told to her about the moments after the explosion that killed Mr. King explain the importance of journalism?
5. Do we appreciate the value of the truth because of what she does to learn about the death of Mr. King?
6. Is the book important in helping the reader learn the full story about the invasion of Iraq?
7. What is in the book that will relate to 18-year-old students who in many cases have never experienced the death of anyone close to them?
If you've not read A Journal for Jordan, I think you will enjoy it.