Friday, October 17, 2008

Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers

I have to say that I am not the biggest fan of war books, especially not when it comes to the Vietnam war, but somehow I still manage to read a few of them. This is one of the best I've read, probably because it's written with teens in mind. When it comes to war books, I guess I am just better off reading the ones that are geared towards younger audiences.
That is not to say that this book makes reading about the war easy on anyone. It is graphic in the descriptions of the violence, and Myers is not afraid to get into the details. The story is told from the point of view of Richard Perry, a 17-year-old from Harlem who joins the army to go to Vietnam. He doesn't really know why he's going, he just can't think of anything better to do. Once he's there he meets Pee-Wee, who becomes his best friend in the war. He has no idea what to expect, and doesn't really seem to have a clear idea of what the war is about or who the enemy is.
I really liked the fact that Perry's character stayed the same, even while the war changed him. He was still just a scared kid, one who had no idea what he was doing in the middle of the jungle in Vietnam. He watches as his fellow soldiers struggle to deal with the same fear and anger he is dealing with, and wondering who they will be when they get back to "the World". At first Vietnam is unreal to them, but after a while, its the World that becomes unreal. This book gives you a glimpse of how war (and other traumatizing experiences) can really change a person, and make them incabable of dealing with reality. This is definitely an excellent book, great for high school students who can handle reading through the violence.

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