Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Book - Song of Saigon: One Woman's Journey to Freedom

Currently Reading
Song of Saigon: One Woman's Journey to Freedom
By Anh Vu Sawyer, Pam Proctor
So I just finished this book - flew through it. I keep reading books that unexpectedly intersect with my life. This woman's story is incredible. She begins with the somewhat miraculous tale of pushing through crowds and somehow ending up with her ENTIRE family on one of the last helicopters out of Saigon when the US pulled out of Vietnam.

Then she goes back and begins with the story of her grandfather, an angry opium addict who goes through detox under a missionary and becomes a committed Christian, builds a big happy family, and becomes head over all of Vietnam's railroads.

Then the story of her mother, a spunky woman who falls in love and then loses that life when the battle between the French and the communists breaks out. She ends up marrying a communist leader who had once been imprisoned by the Japanese in the same "Hanoi Hilton" prison in which John McCain was later held. He defects to the French in the end, and that story leads into the moment when he, his wife, and their children get out of the country on the helicopter.

In the journey out of refugee camps, they are adopted by a church in west Chicago. She has an offer to be cared for on her own by a guy who wants to pay her way to medical school. In the end the family turns down that offer for keeping the family together, and he ends up stalking her - and is later arrested for being part of a prostitution ring that preyed on the Vietnamese refugee girls. Yuck. In any case, one of the church women who helps her with the stalker thing is "Mrs. Ritchie", which I realized is the SAME as the wife of the guy who wrote "God in the Pits" that I read a few months back. Wow - that guy was an Mk from Afghanistan, and his passion for refugees led him to lead his church into adopting Vietnamese refugees and helping them integrate into society. The rest of the book I knew I was looking at a life that was totally transformed by the passion of Mr. Ritchie, who is awfully like me in his cynicism about the church but love for people overseas. Cool.

In any case, the main character goes to Wheaton for a year, where she gets to know EVERYONE (I can just picture it, we had a few kids like that at Moody - lol) and is entirely clothed by the missionary barrel (yep, me too). She falls in love with the most unconventional boy on campus - who is unconventional enough to be labeled by the student body as a "homosexual", a word that she doesn't understand for 10 more years. In any case, he is not, and after several years of long distance dating, they marry and move to inner city NY, where she works for a travel company and becomes a total fashionista (crazy life!). She said she would use her weekends to fly to Boston and shop all Saturday at Filene's basement for shoes. Haha!

The story goes on, but what a life she led! The ins and outs of what she goes through in light of her family history is really amazing. I love autobiographies.

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