Song of Saigon: One Woman's Journey to Freedom
Anh Vu Sawyer and Pam Proctor
Warner Faith, 256 pages, $17.95

In an account that reads like part historical fiction, part memoir, Anh Vu Sawyer and Pam Proctor offer insights about the people, culture, and politics of Vietnam and the challenges of being a refugee in America. The story begins by setting the stage for Sawyer's escape with her family from Saigon in 1975. The rest of Part I reconstructs Sawyer's family history, including the compelling tale of her grandfather, an opium addict whose life was changed by an encounter with a missionary.

Sawyer relies on her vivid imagination, historical documentation, and family memories to flesh out her stories. Shifting voices can sometimes be challenging for the reader (as when she objectively tells of a baby girl being born, then changes to first person to tell the reader that she is the baby).

Part II continues Sawyer's first-person account of her family's flight to Illinois, her subsequent years at Wheaton and Calvin colleges, and her return to Vietnam to help establish public-health programs. Sawyer resists the temptation to gloss over the messier aspects of her life, including her near-divorce and the beatings she endured from an abusive father. Readers interested in Vietnam, mission work, and memoir should enjoy this personal narrative.


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Song of Saigon is available at Christianbook.com.

Publisher Time Warner has a chapter excerpt posted online.

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A Refugee's Challenges
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February 2003

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