Monday, July 09, 2007
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
I have recommended this book to lots of boys who wanted to read about war, but I confess I had never read it myself. I actually listened to it on my iPod, which wasn't so great—somehow the horrors of the Vietnam war didn't go well with running around the lakes in the summer. But, it is every bit as good as I thought it would be, especially for readers who want to know what it was really like to be a soldier in Vietnam. Richie Perry, the narrator, is a smart African-American teenager who doesn't see a way to go to college, so he signs up to go to Vietnam. The dialogue between Richie and his comrades is vivid and realistic—Walter Dean Myers really has a knack for making characters come to life. He also has all the details of Vietnam embedded into the story—the jargon the soldiers used, the foods they ate, the routine of daily life (boring) contrasted with the horrors of going out on a mission. Of course, there is violence and colorful language, it couldn't be war without those elements. Other Vietnam War fiction books you might like are Cracker by Cynthia Kahodahata and Search and Destroy by Dean Hughes. Highly recommended for mature middle school readers interested in history or war.