Imagine being sent away from home to a boarding school–and being forbidden to speak in your native language. Then fast forward a decade and imagine being recruited by the military for your ability to speak that same forbidden language, which is now the basis for coded communication in World War II.
That is Ned Begay’s story in Joseph Bruchac’s Code Talkers: A Novel about the Navajo Marines of World War II. I have known about this book for years, too many years to admit. I knew the story and was intrigued by the premise of this historical fiction novel for teens. But it wasn’t until I finally downloaded the audiobook from my library that I dived into this novel.
And I’m so glad I did. I wish I had read it sooner so I could have shared it with my history loving father. Through Ned’s eyes, we glimpse what live might have been like for these soldiers before, during, and after their military service. Their work was vital to the war effort, but they couldn’t tell a soul what they actually had done until the information became declassified decades later.
More than a book about war, this is a story of a people that answered a call to service–even to a country that had persecuted and displaced their ancestors.
Learn more about these courageous soldiers on the Official Website of the Navajo Code Talkers.