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June 2, 2008

Fallen Angels

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Fallen Angels

Author: Walter Dean Myers

Page Length: 309  

Reading Level: 5   

Genre: Realistic Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: The story begins with Richard Perry, 17, a resident of Harlem, on his way to Vietnam.  On his flight, he meets a nurse, Judy, also going to serve in the Army.  Upon arrival, Perry joins his unit made up of Lobel, Johnson, Brunner and Pewee.  Although strangers in a strange land, the men quickly bond as they begin their service time in Vietnam. 

The soldiers first must get used to the harsh living conditions of the hot, humid, conditions of the country. Then, they learned to deal with the unknowing agenda that awaited them each day.  Many days, they didn’t do anything but sit around the camp playing games.  Other days, they were sent into villages to meet the women, children and older citizens of Vietnam.  At other times, they were sent to battle to protect or defend other units. 

After their first experience with combat, Perry realizes he doesn’t know a prayer to recite.  As a group, they learn to pray together.  They welcome the priest and chaplain’s visits.  Throughout the book, rumors are constant that the peace talks are making progress and the war will end soon.  However, the days go into weeks, the weeks into months and the battles continue. 

Perry writes to his family, but doesn’t tell them what the war is really like.  The war becomes more real as soldiers get wounded and die.  By the middle of the book, the small unit is in the middle of the war.  They believe in defending their country, but they question how it is being done.  They see each other get wounded both physically and emotionally and they share a dream—to get home alive.

REVIEW: This book was very descriptive and realistic in its presentation of action in the Vietnam War.  It is a narrative told from the point of view of a 17 year old African American from Harlem and his experience in the war.  Myers vividly describes the difficulty in getting a good night’s rest on page 61. A simile on page 63 is a good example of Myers excellent writing ability.  The descriptions of battle made me feel as if I were a part of the unit as they fought to return home.

I enjoyed the book, especially because I have a high interest in this war, as it occurred when I was in high school.  Boys would especially like this book, but I think girls could easily read it with great interest.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: Supporting details, Setting, Characters, Compare/Contrast, Sequence of Events, Conclusions, Generalizations, and Predictions

TOUCHY AREAS: Strong language

RELATED BOOKS: Vietnam Nurse, In Country

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: Platoon, Green Berets, Dear America: Letters from Vietnam


REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

January 21, 2008

My Brother Sam is Dead

Filed under: M — thebookreviews @ 9:13 pm
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My Brother Sam is Dead

Authors: James Lincoln Collier & Christopher Collier

Page Length: 211

Reading Level:  6

Genre: Historical Fiction


REVIEW: I found this book to be an interesting look at what Revolutionary War in America and in Connecticut in particular might have been like. It was interesting to read about everyday life under such circumstances. The title leads the reader to keep turning the pages to discover whether or not Tim’s brother, Sam, will die and how. This was an intriguing look at innocence, coming of age, the harsh realities of war, and understanding that indeed there are two sides to every story. I would recommend this novel to a student particularly interested in historical events. The book’s main characters are young men; although, minor female roles are interlaced throughout the book. Hence, the book would likely appeal more to male students. The novel is sufficiently laced with suspense, intrigue, hints of espionage, and may even evoke outrage and disgust in the reader. This Newberry Honor book would serve as an excellent starting point for further research, discussions, and debates.




REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

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