Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers

Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers. New York: Point, 1988. ISBN-10: 0545055768; ISBN-13: 978-0545055765. 309 p.

Plot Summary
Richie, Lobel, Johnson, Brunner, and Peewee are all young soldiers in Vietnam. They all joined the army for different reasons: one sends extra money home to his mom so his little brother can finish high school, and another joined because he didn't think there would be any fighting and it would be an easy job. They all have different stories, but they share the same purpose--they all want to get home alive.

Critical Evaluation
This novel's first-person point of view lends it a sense of real tension and doom as Richie's tour of duty nears its close. Myers excels at painting portraits of young men, the same age as many teen readers, who are pressed into duty in a controversial, hellish war. Astute teens will be able to draw parallels between the Vietnam War and today's conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. In this book, the problems of war become real, and Myers does a good job of portraying believable examples of teens dealing with issues such as a loss of innocence and the unromantic reality and moral ambiguity of war.

Reader’s Annotation
Richie went to Vietnam in the army because he didn't get into college. During his time there, he finds out how hellish war can really be.

Author Information
Walter Dean Myers was born in Martinsburg, West Virginia in 1937, but was raised in Harlem. He dropped out of high school and joined the army on his seventeenth birthday. His army experiences lend real color and authenticity to his writings on the Vietnam War. Before he left high school, one of his English teachers told him to keep on writing no matter what else happened to him. He took her advice and has published over 70 novels for children and young adults. A full list of his books, as well as other author information, can be found at

Historical fiction

Curriculum Ties
History: Vietnam War, 1960s race relations

Booktalking Ideas
-Where do you picture yourself when you're 18? In this novel, 18-year-old boys are at war.
-fear of premature death
-people hardening in the face of war

Reading Level/Interest Age
Grades 9-12

Challenge Issues
Language, war violence and mature themes

Challenge Defense
Point to the novel as a realistic portrayal of the war by looking at history books and other primary source documents from the era.

I included this book because it won the ALA's Coretta Scott King award in 1989, and because I needed some historical fiction to round out the genres included in this blog.


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