Breakfast with the Dirt Cult is a vivid and raw look into a young man’s term serving in the U.S. Army. It takes place over the span of his arrival into the army and his time spent serving in the war in Afghanistan. Reading from a non-military perspective, having never served before, I was very eager to dive into this book and see from what perspective of the war it would be written. The story is Samuel Finlay’s writing debut and it follows the life of Tom Walton, an American around the age of 20 who recently graduated from college. In Tom Walton, Finlay has identified him to represent the young man searching for his place in life.
Carrying this strong moral message I instantly was drawn into the storyline which was important as the book started off very slow and some things were at times confusing to follow. The harsh dialogue of the soldiers was especially challenging as they have their own lingo that they speak. With that being said the way the soldiers spoke made the story that much more real and painted a world, that before reading, was not clear to me.
The purpose for him enlisting can be tied back to a woman he met – a stripper to be exact. As is the case for most young men, women can have a strong influence over the decisions they make whether they are positive or negative. The theme of choice carries throughout this story, as it is one of finding one’s inner self and holding onto to it despite what society may tell us or think of us.
As the book progresses you get a strong sense of military life, which is very insightful for those who have no idea what such life brings. The harsh realities are shed, as this is not a sugarcoated version of the truth of the military. Finlay presents a no holds barred version of the truth and at times he seems to aim his story at the very young men getting ready to make the decision of whether or not to enlist. He stresses that being a hero isn’t what its made out to be as there are huge sacrifices along the way. To serve one’s country is not for the faint of heart as it comes with huge commitments and even huger sacrifices.
Overall you feel a great respect and admiration for the young man as he makes the choices that shape his future. As Walton goes through the ranks of the Army you learn more about his character. As much as it is inspirational, it is equally honest; this is not Uncle Sam’s Army, this is the army that every young man wakes up to as the rest of the world sleeps. A great story that will make you think hard about the choices in your life and completely change the way you see those who serve in any branch of the military. Breakfast with the Dirt Cult is a haunting real life story, which will have you thinking way past its closing pages. I look forward to seeing what else Samuel Finlay will write in the future.