Yes, officially, this book is aimed at grades 8 to 11. I first read it in the 6th grade and loved it so much that I went out and found all of them (at great expense).
While the book is no Rumor of War or Dispatches, coming in at under 200 pages and being entirely fictionalized, I find it to be a great approach to the topic. It’s essentially a stream-of-consciousness novel, following the travails of Mike Jennings, a new conscripted soldier sent out into the bush. Introduce a cast of endearing (if stereotyped) characters, and the book, while somewhat simplistic, is a really great read.
The book has its share of cursing and violence—surely as much as any other similar book—which is probably what attracted me to it as a 6th-grader, admittedly. That, and Emerson’s narrative manages to be extremely powerful, and extremely personal, even within the context of a short novel on Scholastic Press. The slow, excruciating pacing, the dry wit, and painstaking attention to tone all give this book more depth than it might appear to have on first glance.
You won’t be able to find it outside of (maybe) your library or a lucky used book store, but if you ever feel like it, give it a read. Or give it to your kids: it’ll be good for them.