Third Quarter Outside Reading Book Review
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers Scholastic Inc. 1998 Genre: Historical Fiction novel
The main character in the story, Richard Perry, is shipped off to Vietnam from his primarily academic life back in Brooklyn. He decided to enlist in the army because he has no money to go to college or to help out his family. The story is about how the men come together and entrust their lives to each other during the war, braving many hardships and injuries. They also have to deal with deaths of friends and comrades. Perry and another character, Harold “Peewee” Gates, become good friends and stick together throughout the story. It is a story of the hardships of war and how they affect each and every one of the men serving there. The conflict is having questions that cannot be truly answered by the men serving there, and they think about killing people who may have just as much in the way of rights as themselves.
“Heartbreaking…. Other authors have gotten the details right, but Myers reaches into the minds of the soldiers….” the book jacket reads. “Readers, including those born after the fall of Saigon… will reel from the human consequences of battle.” –Publishers Weekly, boxed review
In he novel Fallen Angels, the reader gets a firsthand account of the harrowing tale of one company of men struggling to comprehend and survive the war in Nam. It isn’t just a historical account of how the battles took place, but what went on in the minds of the men fighting in the battles. It shows the internal struggles over right and wrong, race and religion, and taking another man’s life.
In this novel, the reader receives a glimpse through the eyes of a man fighting in the war in Vietnam, and in his own internal war over family and college, along with other issues that are important to a young man, like girls and money. This is all diminished though after his friends start dying and he has to struggle to keep himself alive.
“My plans, maybe just my dreams really, had been to go to college, and to write.... All the other guys in the neighborhood thought I was going to college. I wasn’t, and the army was the place I was going to get away from all the questions.”
I enjoyed this story because of the way it followed what I imagine really happened in Nam, it stuck to what is realistic to expect in war, nothing more, nothing less. It also told of the time back at base, not just the time out on missions. The time on missions was actually very slight compared to the time spent at base. It told of the men fighting amongst themselves as well as the enemy. It was very well written.