Monday, December 13, 2010

Attention Book Club Participants!

It's time to check in with our Book Club Participants! Last month we posted the selection "From Baghdad, With Love" and we've enjoyed reading about Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman and his struggles to bring Lava, a spunky puppy found in an abandoned house in Fallujah, safely to the U.S. and away from danger. 
This book gives an incite to a Marines inner battle with the horrifying surroundings of war and the emotional struggle to be a fierce soldier while showing sympathy for a small animal in need. 
Kopelman, in more than one instance, wonders if his fellow Marines will mock him if they realize how much he cares for Lava, the puppy he discovered. 
Kopelman and the members of the First Battalion, Third Marines also known as the Lava Dogs, heard a noise in the abandoned home that served as their command post, they all raised their weapons in defense. They were shocked to discover a small dirty puppy in the midst of all the bombings and war torn surroundings. 
Kopelman writes, "The best part is how these Marines, these elite, well-oiled machines of war who in theory can kill another human being in a hundred unique ways, become mere mortals in the presence of a tiny animal."
Apparently Lava was in the home when it was stormed by the Lava Dogs, but not one of the men could find the courage to put him out on the streets. The book details the treatment of strays in war zones and the cruel and inhumane way they are disposed of and often used in bombing attacks by insurgents in Iraq
Knowing Lava's fate if left to his own, Kopelman begins a long journey to get Lava safely into the states. Many people put their lives at risk to help in Kopelman's mission, including Anne Garrels, journalist for the National Public Radio.
In one nail-biting chapter, we realize just how dangerous the task is of getting Lava to the U.S. when Anne and Lava get to the Jordanian border. The scene is tense already as border patrol is strict and checkpoints are frequently subjected to bombings. Even a sneeze can be mistaken as a signal and can get you killed. 
Lava probably senses the tension and in one fell swoop escapes the crate and continues to have Annie chasing him around their SUV. It sounds comical but this was no laughing matter to the border patrol and Lava and Anne were turned away. 
 The hardest part to read is the frustration of Kopelman to go through this journey via email. Kopelman had to have the help of many people due to his commitment to the military and the location of his unit. Much of the book details his reactions to e-mails from Anne and also John Van Zante, director of Public Relations at the Helen Woodward Animal Center in California. John was also crucial in the fight to get Lava to a safe place. 
In April 2005, after over 6 months of striving, Lava was able to land at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois
Lava is now living well with Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman and his wife, stepson and their other dog Koda.
We thoroughly enjoyed the book club selection and recommend this heartwarming story to other animal lovers.What did you think of Lava's story? 
Did you have any favorite parts? Comment your thoughts and stay tuned for next month's book club selection!

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