Book review: Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival, by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch with Tuan Ho, art by Brian Deines

Skrypuch, Marsha Forchuk, with Tuan Ho. Adrift at Sea : A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival. Art by Brian Deines.  Pajama Press, 2016. Unp. $18.95. ISBN: 978-1-77278-005-5. Gr. 2+. P8 Q9

I was in high school the year that the Vietnam War ended. I witnessed television reports of the helicopters and long lines of Vietnamese and Americans who were waiting to taken out of Vietnam in front of the advancing Vietcong army. After the airlift, the world did not know what was taking place in Vietnam under the newly formed government. As time went on people started to escape Vietnam  in small boats, becoming known as “Boat People.”

Tuan Ho was six years old when his father and an older sister escape on a boat, separating the family. Tuan is awakened by his mother one night and taken with his siblings and cousins to escape by a boat.  A younger sister, too young to escape, is left behind. As the refugees rush into the surf to board the boat, they are spotted by the Army and fired upon. Back matter includes photographs of the family, later reunited. The illustrations are oil on canvas; they help in telling the story of risks that the Vietnamese “Boat People” faced.

Verdict: Today 11 million illegal immigrants are in the United States, seeking a better life. This book should be read aloud to classes who are discussing the issue of refugees and illegal immigration in the USA.

April 2017 review by Carol Bernardi.

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