Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers

book cover of Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
Fallen Angels
by Walter Dean Myers
Scholastic, 1988
309 pages
Young adult historical fiction
Library Copy

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.

My thoughts:

"...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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9 comments:

Amanda said...

I really need to read something by this author. He's on the shortlist of authors I've yet to read...

Serena said...

I will be reading this for the Vietnam War challenge as well. I've heard it was banned at one point.

We'll try to get this review up soon.

Allie said...

This is my favorite by Myers! He is such a wonderful writer!

April (BooksandWine) said...

I have a few books by Myers including Fallen Angels, Monster, and Dream Bearer. Awesome to see that you really enjoyed this one. It's great when a book does such a fantastic job of conveying raw emotions.

Alyce said...

This is not a book I would normally be drawn to (especially with that cover), but since my nephew has enlisted in the marines and requested service in Afghanistan, I seem to be drawn more to war stories.

Lula O said...

Excellent review! This one looks really interesting, and I've never heard of this guy. gasp** Must've been fun to meet him though!

Shellie (Layers of Thought) said...

I have this on my list for War Across the Generations challenge.

It is so wonderful that you got to meet the author. I just love that - even though I have only done so twice.

I found my copy for 25 cents at the local library - I love that.

Jill of The O.W.L. said...

I LOVE this book and I LOVE Walter Dean Myers. There is a sequel of sorts called Sunrise Over Fallujah.

Anna said...

The only Myers book I've read is Motown and Didi, which I read many years ago. I'll have to check out this book for the challenge.

We've posted about your review here on War Through the Generations.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric