Everyone has a period of time in their life in which they have experienced events that not only changed their lives but also changed the way they perceive the world. This period of time can end up dictating ones future. For some people it could mean moving to a different country, others it could be meeting someone new, for Valérie Zenatti it was enlisting in the Israeli army. In When I Was A Soldier, Valérie tells a story of the events that happened during her enlistment that changed who she is forever.
Valérie Zenatti is a young french girl, recently turned 18, who moved to Israel with her parent at 15. She has also recently enlisted in the army. Valérie is a hard headed individual, she carried herself in a manor that leads others to trust her, she had an optimism that attracts others. She is extremely intelligent, more than she gives herself credit for. As the storyline progresses you begin to see the optimism in Valérie fade away. She begins to experience events that harden her exterior. Towards the end of the book she seems a lot more independent. During her time in the army she has learned she is an above average women and she has learned that she shouldn’t second guess herself.
Valérie enlisted herself into the army and left her family for boot camp after she finished her last year in high school. On her way to the base she meets an interesting character, Eynat, and quickly becomes good friends with her. The time on her base soon ends with her training complete, Valérie is sent to a base near Jerusalem to be apart of the intelligent service, or the secret service. There she learns how to announce and direct air crafts. One weekend Valérie goes to visit her boyfriend, Jean David, only to find out that he has a new girlfriend. Valérie ends up going to her first real mission with a broken heart, but it ends up being a good thing. She learns how to leave her feelings out of her work and she does an amazing job on the jet, using her skills to assist her.
The story begins set in Beersheva, Israel; where Valérie lives with her parents. In BeershevaValérie spent her time going to school, keeping up her grades, and hanging out with friends. When it was time to leave and go to her base for boot camp, the setting changed to Tel Aviv. The base is actually just outside Tel Aviv, on the inside the base is very barren and woodsy, but just outside the base the world is buzzing with civilians living their everyday lives.
Soon Valérie’s time at the base is over and she is being transmitted to another base near Jerusalem, where she learns how to operate the missions. There isn’t an exact time in which the story takes place. Its seems as though all the events occurred in the late 1990’s. The country is in a state of conquer, they want to gain more land. The army is at a point where they most definitely need all the soldiers they can get. Valérie is a much needed asset to the Israeli army.
Valérie joined the army to have a purpose. She wanted to make a difference in the world, she wanted to be behind the country she calls home. Valérie shows a lot of courage in her decision and proves that women can be very valuable to the army. She has done her time and has learned what she wanted to learn. She has gained everything out of her enlistment that she wanted to gain, and continues to be make a difference in the world by sharing her story.
To conclude everyone does go through a change in their life, for better or for good, and one cannot control how or when it’ll happen. Although, just as Valérie Zenatti displayed, we must continue with courage. We must see that we experience all that we can. We must not hesitate but go with our gut. Valérie has demonstrated that life has its time when it is hard, but it can be rewarding.