My Journey to Find Freedom and a New Life in America
2nd Edition Published in the UK
3rd Edition Published in the USA
I was born in Vietnam during the war in 1967. My father, a soldier in the South Vietnamese army, died during duties three months before the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975...leaving me, my mother and younger sister alone during the chaos of a changing government.
Three months after the war ended, my sister fell ill and died in my mother's arms only miles away from home on a motor scooter around midnight. Then some years later, my aunt took her own life, survived by her young son and daughter. In just a few short months, my mother had experienced and suffered greatest shocks in her life--her husband, daughter and older sister had left her forever...
Am I unlucky because of the terrible things that happened to me as a child, or am I lucky because of the life I lead now--I hardly know myself. All I can tell you is that no sane person would ever choose war over peace. War is inhuman madness. War is what people do to each other when they have completely forgotten the sacredness of life. And so, my journey starts here...
In 1978, my mom and I fled war-ravaged Vietnam in a fishing boat, desperately hoping to find freedom and a new life in America. Conditions on the small, overcrowded boat were horrific, and eight days into the journey, disaster struck. As the boat came in sight of shore, it was hit by a ferocious storm. The boat sank with the loss of half of the 350 passengers on board, but miraculously my mom and I escaped, eventually making our way to the USA to begin our new life.
Aged only eleven, I had witnessed at first hand the barbarity of war, and after the death of my father and younger sister, me and my mother were left to struggle on in poverty. But our flight to the West did not have a fairy-tale ending, and in the coming years we faced a struggle to integrate into American society.
My story is a remarkable and inspirational story of a war child's fight first for survival in the devastated landscape of Vietnam and then for acceptance in the affluent West...
****Book Review by M. Galindo, Orange, CA United States on Amazon****
Blossoms On The Wind are the memoirs of Juliet Lac, a woman who was born in Vietnam during the war in 1967. Her father, a soldier in the South Vietnamese army, perished in the war, leaving Juliet, her mother, and her younger sister alone. After the war, Juliet's sister falls ill, and dies, leaving only her and her mother to survive in what remains of Vietnam.
Through sheer courage and determination, Juliet's mother manages to secure passage on a fishing boat for the both of them to take them to ...? So, in the middle of the night, with 300+ other people on the boat that should only hold less than 100, they escape Vietnam and head towards something, anything that has to be better than where they've been.
The story that follows is at times remarkable, unbelievable, gut-wrenching, and will leave one with the wonderment of how these women survive. Moving to a new place is always a challenge. But moving from a third-world country to America? To a place where you know you are despised? Where you don't speak the language, where the culture is foreign, the food is unknown? Walking into a schoolroom, and knowing nothing? These things can seem unsurmountable. Reading this woman's story fills one with a sense of faith in the human spirit, and truly gives one inspiration.
Now, I do have to admit to being a little biased here. I live in Southern California, and specifically in Orange County, where we have the largest population of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam. And I am old enough to remember the influx of Vietnamese refugees during the 70s and 80s. I have friends and co-workers who were "boat people" and lived in refugee camps - similar experiences to Juliet Lac's - and their stories have always amazed me. Their courage and determination have been an inspiration to me.
That's why I'm so glad this women has written this book, and has done such a wonderful job with it. Her stories, and others like hers, should be told. They offer so much to others. Juliet Lac does go through some very tough times, and she does suffer through depression and make some very bad choices. Yet, she also demonstrates how the will to survive and the human spirit can overcome, and healing can become a possibility. This is one of the few truly inspirational books I've had the honor to read.