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Children in exile : the story of a…

Children in exile : the story of a cross-cultural family

by Thekla Clark

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0880016337, Hardcover)

Four years after the end of the Vietnam War, an American couple living in Italy give shelter to two Vietnamese refugees and their malnourished infant son. They are soon joined by a family of four Cambodians fleeing from the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge. "I suppose I wanted to be good," says the author of Children in Exile. With honesty, courage, and warmth, she describes their arrival and acculturation, her mistakes and successes. Inevitably there are misunderstandings; for example, she is unaware of the violent 1,000-year-old enmity between Cambodians and Vietnamese that initially causes the new arrivals to distrust each other.

Soon each becomes a vivid individual. It is only when the author has settled them into the lovely, rambling, old Tuscan villa that she begins to share their stories. This gives great poignancy to the sufferings of individuals whom we have begun to know. The book's celebration of the strength of the human spirit is inspiring on both sides--the generosity of the author and the indestructible morality of the refugees. When the teenage Samreth, who survived on his wits through four years of Khmer Rouge brutality, asks if an advertisement on Italian TV is true and learns that it probably isn't, he is disgusted: "What was the point of lying if your life didn't depend on it?" This book obliges one to consider what is truly important in life. --John Stevenson

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:28 -0400)

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