If you take elements of Clementine Wamariya's memoir, THE GIRL WHO SMILED BEADS, and Oliver Stone's docudrama, HEAVEN & EARTH, then throw in small sprinkles of Kevin Kwon's CRAZY RICH ASIANS, you'll get Amy M. Le's debut historical fiction novel, SNOW IN VIETNAM. There are elements of humor, romance and heartache injected throughout these pages of fear and uncertainty. Strength from family and trust in oneself are at the heart of this book.
Growing up in war-torn Vietnam was normal, even idyllic at times, for Snow, the youngest of seven children in her family. Although her heart belongs to an American GI, she honors her father by marrying a Vietnamese man. Her halcyon life unravels as the Vietnam War ravages her country and the threat of communism culminates with the fall of Saigon. Life in unified Vietnam under the new regime becomes unbearable. Betrayed by her husband and left with a dying child to raise, Snow must set aside her morals and push herself to the limit emotionally, physically and mentally, to buy her way out of the country. Her decision to escape and find sanctuary in America takes her adrift in the South China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand with her daughter, nephew, and other boat refugees. For days, they are at the mercy of pirates, storms, and dire conditions. Ultimately, Snow settles into a refugee camp on the island of Galang in Indonesia, but life there is deplorable. The threat of repatriation and the will to keep her family alive keeps her motivated to hustle for a ticket to freedom.
SNOW IN VIETNAM was written to honor the memory of the author's mother. The novel was a finalist for the 2018 Pacific Northwest Writers Association literary award. This story is dedicated to the boat people of Vietnam and all the refugees who risked their lives in a desperate search for safety and freedom.