Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers, begins with the introduction of an African American 19-year-old boy who lives in Chicago. Recently he’s joined the army and been assigned domestic work as he hoped for due to his bad leg and unreliable strength on it. Then, by accident of paperwork, he was eventually sent to Nam and put directly onto the field. He agreed to wait for his injury profile to catch up with him and that then he could return home. His mother at home is quite worried for him and also for the future of her other younger son Kenny.
Life is hard and money is scarce with the absence of the family’s father. In Nam, the elder son Perry undergoes many experiences that are permanently damaging to his mental physique and deal with the balance of life and death. As any Vietnam Story, men are placed in bunkers surrounded by watchmen at all hours and barbed wire. Men are constantly under stress and try their best to live around it with out showing fear and horror of every second to come.
At one point in the plot, Perry and his friend Peewee are sent away from the retreating troop, up a hill to check and see if any N. Vietnamese troops resting to set an ambush on them. When they start up the hill, fire breaks out on the rest of their squad, and they run away up the hill to safety. As this is all happening and fire continues, dusk falls and the night moons sweeps overhead. In a matter of 15 minutes darkness has fallen and Peewee and Perry are lost alone and unsure if their troop has any remainders.
They soon hear Vietnamese voices, and start to see hundred of men coming their way. Feeling trapped they run for cover and end up finding a hole surrounded by large clumps of grass. They both jump into the cramped spider hole and spend the night while the N. Vietnamese troops stop for the night and sleep no more than 100 feet from their hiding spot. The next morn, the troops begin to awake and herd off, however one man is left to jump into ‘his’ spider hole.
When he does so Perry and Peewee put up a struggle and then shoot him at point blank in the hole. More scared then they’ve ever been before they climb out of the hole and run to the landing pad to escape towards base. This event I feel is the most personal and moving portion of the story. It caused me to feel fear and reality of war like I’v never before read in a book or scene on film.
This reading selection is quite valuable to the average kid in our arrogant Leawood society today. It not only details the life and time of poor lifestyles but also describes what other have put into this country and the nationalism that some hold of which we’ve never seen the likes of before. After reading I understand new ideals varying from why people stay and fight for their country rather than fleeing to Canada to what real battle can be like in an area totally unfamiliar to one. It’s a very well written book and also provides easy reading, however quite deep and with great interest.