ESCAPE FROM SAIGON: How a Vietnam War Orphan Became an American Boy

Andrea Warren, Author . FSG/Kroupa $17 (128p) ISBN 978-0-374-32224-3

Warren's (Orphan Train Rider) compelling, emotionally charged account focuses on Long, a boy born in 1966 in a small village in South Vietnam (to a Vietnamese mother and "an unknown American father"). Like the author's daughter, Long was one of 2,300 Vietnamese orphans whom Operation Babylift brought to the U.S. The author mines the child's memories to create a sense of his early years in Vietnam, and the impact of war and scarcity on his family. Some of the details may disturb more sensitive readers: Long wakened next to his mother's body after her suicide, and the boy lived with his grandmother until, no longer able to care for him she took him on his seventh birthday to Saigon's Holt Center, whose mission was to help place orphans with American families. The volume contains bright and even heroic moments: Warren describes the boy's relatively comfortable if lonely life at the Center, universal childhood experiences such as a fascination with learning to ride a bike, and the painstaking process of evacuating the orphans to America just before Saigon's fall in 1975. The narrative incorporates much sobering information, including the crash of the first Operation Babylift flight soon after takeoff. The tone of the tale brightens as Warren anecdotally writes of Long's adaptation to American life as a member of the Steiner family of Ohio. Dramatic accounts of other Vietnamese and American people's escape from Saigon on the eve of its collapse plus numerous b&w photos round out this informative book and help bring into clear focus the Vietnam War's effects on children. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 10/18/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
Genre: Children's
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4178-2995-8
Paperback - 110 pages - 978-0-374-40023-1
Prebound-Glued - 110 pages - 978-1-61383-812-9
Open Ebook - 128 pages - 978-1-4668-3448-4
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