Sue's Reviews > Fallen Angels

Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
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's review
Dec 02, 09

bookshelves: young-adult-fiction, war-fiction, vietnam, realistic-fiction
Read in January, 1997

** spoiler alert ** Synopsis:
After his high school graduation 17 year-old Richie Perry joins the army simply because he couldn’t think of anything else to do; college was too expensive, jobs were scarce, and his family had limited prospects in the projects of Harlem. Initially recruited to play basketball for the army’s professional team, Perry finds himself sidelined and shipped overseas after a knee-injury stops his sports career. Upon arrival in Vietnam Perry finds that his medical profile hasn’t made it to base; he is promptly assigned to a squad and summarily shipped out to the field for combat duty. In the field Perry is forced to become more than “just an observer in life” (p.35) and shake the malaise and passivity that has hallmarked his young adult life. Through his narration Myers’ addresses the racism to which Perry and his squad-mates are subjected to as they are assigned to increasingly dangerous missions. Moreover, through Perry Myers starts the reader on a journey to identify the meaning behind the war or rather the lack of meaning, which is a pivotal theme behind the 1960's and 1970's.

Review:
I first read this book while I was in middle school, at the time I had never read any of Myers’ fiction, nor had I read any fiction about Vietnam. Upon revisiting the novel for this project I found myself just as entranced with the simple narration and evocative detail of Myers prose as I was when I first read it. The honesty and clarity of Perry’s narration and thoughts makes him an extremely sympathetic and insightful narrator capable of provoking reflection amongst even the most uninterested reader.
The material may be disturbing to some young readers, however the narrative and character should appeal to both the young and adult reader. Moreover, the book makes an excellent addition to social studies curriculum and boy-oriented book clubs.
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