Saturday, June 20, 2015

Out of the Dragon's Mouth

When we learn about things like the Vietnam War in history classes, we tend to get very few details: the basis of the conflict, it's scope in years and international involvement, and the resolution. We learn that as American troops withdrew from South Vietnam, desperate people attempted to leave with them, sometimes pressing their small children onto trucks and into helicopters in hopes of a better life. This is essentially all we learn. Novels like this one open our eyes to the realities of life in a postwar region. Continued political turmoil left Vietnam a very dangerous place to be and thousands fled, preferring the dangers of over-packed, rickety ships to the threat of their own government. Even if one could reach a refuge camp, conditions there were not much better especially as some residents of the camps were little more than children with no parental supervision. This is a fascinating look at how circumstance can take a young person used to privilege and put her into a situation where her only thoughts are to survival. The writing is somewhat stilted at times but it's a solidly educational read.

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