It is Memorial Day so I felt that this would be an appropriate book review. Back in the late 80s into the 90s there was a great show on the telly called Tour of Duty. You remember those days, when networks actually took the time to show great shows instead of the heavily scripted and possibly rigged bollocks that is now called “reality tv” … talk about a big, buggering oxymoron. Well, every Saturday night many of us ran home to curl up in front of the telly to watch Tour of Duty, a series that centered around a group of characters that were serving in the armed forces deployed in Vietnam. The show was gritty, though not so gory, and it probably mirrored what really happened to many servicemen and women that served in Viet Nam.
I came across Fallen Angels in the YA (young adult) stacks and I was drawn to the illustration the cover. I had to satiate my curiosity. And I was not disappointed. Fallen Angels is centered around Ritchie Perry, a young black man that is recently deployed into the scary mess that is Viet Nam. Enlisted in the hope of earning money to send back to his mother and brother, he hopes that a busted knee would exclude him from active duty. Unfortunately, someone did not get the memo and Ritchie got sent to a fiery vacation point in South East Asia. As you read the book you come across his fears, apprehensions as encounters bumbling bureaucracy, bouts of racism, spurts of cowardice and insanity, the hint of a love that will never be (not going to spoil that one for you, mates), an unnerving amount of body bags, and an appreciation for God Almighty. It would be a far stretch to say that this was as good as sitting next to the blokes in Quonset huts during the this moment time, but I’ve got a really vivid imagination and I’ve seen tons of Viet Nam based war movies. Though I must safely and honestly add that, despite all of that, I would never be able to truly grasp what those brave souls that served truly went through over there. I would be foolish to think otherwise. Still it is delightful pieces such as Fallen Angels that give us a slight glimpse into what our servicemen and women endured. All the more reason to be more respectful and grateful of their service. Fallen Angels is a quick read, and though it is centered around the somberness of war, there is mixture of everything … even humour (watch out for bloke named Peewee). Interesting fact about this book: it was on the ALA list of banned books for it was challenged in some schools, in 1990, for profane language. And if you meet a vet, be kind enough to say thanks or lend them an ear as they tell their stories. Thanks mates, for your service.