Walter Dean Myers
17-year-old Richie Perry enlists to go to Vietnam in an effort to escape his lack of a future in Harlem. Knowing that an injury in his record which should prohibit active duty, and hearing the constant discussions about the war being almost over, he never expects to see any action. When his records don’t catch up to him, Perry and his new buddies are dropped into a war that no preparation could fully prepare them for. Yes, they knew how to use their weapons, but no one told them they would be shooting women and children. No one told them they would see the enemy face-to-face. And no one told them about the senseless of it all.
Myers tells this story from Perry’s viewpoint, so the reader becomes very familiar with the external and internal struggles that Perry has as he tries to comprehend what is happening around him. From this first person perspective, the reader can better understand what Vietnam veterans have witnessed and experienced. Perry’s unit is a mix of races, and there is an undercurrent of discrimination from some members of the unit to Perry and the other blacks. Not only do the soldiers have to fight the battle with the VC, there are many struggles coming down from the officers who are trying for promotions at the potential expense of the soldiers’ lives. For readers who have an interest in the Vietnam Conflict, or in soldier’s stories, this book would make satisfying reading.
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