The Street Called Straight by Elizabeth Polk follows the lives of four snipers caught behind enemy lines by Al Qaeda sympathizers. This is an action packed, character driven piece that is impressively nuanced, given its subject. Given there are four different characters, Polk is able to really spread her wings and explore the Iraq invasion from many different angles: for and against, and somewhere in between. This gives the novel great depth and weight. There are no one-dimensional heroics here, though there is plenty of heroism.
Character is key to this novel, but Polk expertly makes the character development part of the action, as the characters need to grow up very quickly in their violent and terrifying environment. At core, this is a prison break story, and you’ll be madly rooting for their escape, and riveted with every detail about how they hope to escape their confinement.
There’s such impressive attention to detail that one thinks that Polk herself must have been in captivity. And that’s why this book is so successful: it’s believable. Yet at the same time, it doesn’t read like a dry piece of war correspondence. There’s a dynamic mix of action, character development, and literary detail, making The Street Called Straight not only riveting, but an important work of war fiction.