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5 Stars Out Of 5
Riveting story of God's grace
July 17, 2014
Riveting account of one family's journey from great wealth to poverty in post war Vietnam. The Chung family fled communist controlled Vietnam, ultimately being abandoned on the South China Sea to die. God provides the rescue and a new home in America.
I just finished this book about a Chinese family who escaped from Communist Vietnam in the late 70s. Very moving and informative, it is an amazing story of God's providence. As a teen I faintly remember hearing about the "boat people" but had no idea what they experienced. And sadly, I probably didn't care beyond a fleeting moment of sympathy. This book will take you where they traveled and show you what it meant to them to come to America. Very much worth the read.
While I do love to read for a variety of reasons, there are some books that come along that hit one at a deeper level_these are the books that cut into your bedtime and then into your sleep time as you go over in your head what you just absorbed. Where the Wind Leads was one of those books for me. It's not fiction, or even a biography, but a memoir. For me, it was also a history lesson.
Where the Wind Leads tells the story of a family - a well-to-do Chinese family - who happened to live in South Vietnam. Through various set-backs and wars, they had managed to prosper, but the Vietnam War which ended with the takeover by Communism, proved to be the one storm they could not ride out.
I grew up during the Vietnam War - living an insulated life as many of us did - we heard of terrible things, of young men killed, of anti-war demonstrations, but we did not hear the story as told by a Vietnamese family. And I'd heard of the "boat people" - those who were sponsored by churches in America, starting over in a new land. But that sentence covers most of what I knew.
Vinh Chung tells the story from a different perspective - as one of the youngest children in a large family, and with the memories of his family to help him. He tells the story of the money it took to bribe officials to leave, the fear of boarding a boat that was barely sea-worthy, for an unknown future, of moving slowly through heavy waves with no land in sight, through pirate-infested waters. And then, when the joy of land appeared, to find it patrolled by inhospitable soldiers, because of the thousands of refugees who had already come. This is a story of hardship and hunger and fear and courage, but as you continue to read, you realize that it's also a story of God's grace. For the thousands who tried but failed, for the unbelievable odds against this one family and their overcrowded boat, you cannot miss that God had his hand on them or they would never have succeeded. And even with little knowledge of Christianity, Vinh's father came to realize that the Creator God was the only One to appeal to.
In a time when we continue to hear nightly news stories about refugees, you need to read this book to understand what the word "refugee" means in human terms. If you enjoy reading stories of God's grace, of people overcoming with God's help, then you need to read this book. And if you're just looking for a good inspirational book, pick this one! You won't be sorry.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.
Where the Wind Leads is the story of a family forced out of Vietnam in the aftermath of the Vietnam war. The first part of the book chronicles the life they abandoned when they fled and their harrowing journey as unwanted "boat people" in desperate search of a place to land.
Then the story shifts. They are welcomed to a small town in Arkansas, and face the challenge of learning an entirely new culture. This is an especially strong section, as the author does a great job of detailing small cultural differences and how they add up to make communication and integration unexpectedly difficult.
Then my favorite part is where he shares about being a nerdy high school kid trying to connect with a girl he's attracted to. These scenes are just so sweet and hapless, and they had me cheering for him and laughing at the same time. Also, they provide a nice balance to the intensity of the first part of the book. It was nice to see a child who almost didn't survive wrestling with everyday questions about what to say to a girl.
The back cover of this book calls it "a story of personal sacrifice, redemption, endurance against almost insurmountable odds, and what it truly means to be American." Often, cover copy is hyperbole, but in this case the book more than delivers. I'm still thinking about this story days after turning the last page. Highly recommend.
Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.