by Walter Dean Myers
Young adult historical fiction
Summary in a Sentence:
Seventeen-year-old Richie Perry, just out of his Harlem high school, enlists in the Army in the summer of 1967 and spends a devastating year on active duty in Vietnam.
"...For all the angel warriors who fall."Richie Perry is the face of so many young men who fought in the Vietnam War. Raised in Harlem, Richie joins the army in 1967, hoping for a better future. With no money saved for college, Richie finds foreign jungles more palatable than the streets of Harlem.
Richie and his fellow soldier friends are extremely unprepared for the harsh realities of war. They find that the definition of 'enemy' is not as cut and dried as they once pictured and chaos ensues during much of Richie's stay in Vietnam.
"We spent another day lying around. It seemed to be what the war was about. Hours of boredom, seconds of terror."In one of the more terrifying scenes of ambush, so many American soldiers are killed that the remaining boys are forced to burn the bodies rather than body bag and carry them back to the pick-up point. Richie sees the dead boys being burned: "They were me. We wore the same uniform, were the same height, had the same face. They were me, and they were dead." Although this book obviously doesn't glorify war, it doesn't make the judgment call of condemning it, either. Myers presents facts and raw emotion in this narrative, and the language isn't for the faint of heart. Although this book was marketed for young adults, I think I appreciated it even more as an adult.
~ Read for the Vietnam Challenge ~
Bonus: I met Walter Dean Myers at the ALA annual conference last year! Here's a pic:
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