Day: February 9, 2020
An inevitable consequence of American military presence abroad has been liaisons between American GIs and local women, resulting in mixed race children who are often not accepted by their mothers’ cultures, and who find it difficult to adjust to life outside that culture. In no conflict has that phenomenon been more glaring than the decades long Vietnam War. In Child of the Dust, Tom Wascoe gives us the story of Rich, an American soldier, who meets and falls in love with Linh, a young Vietnamese woman who works in the military PX. Linh becomes pregnant, Rich is shipped back to the U.S. before they can marry, the communists win the war, and from the story unfolds slowly as Rich and Linh, though still in love with each other, live their separate lives.
This is a poignant story, showing in stark terms the anguish on all sides of this issue; the American wracked with guilt who tries to move on; the foreign woman, alone and often shunned by her culture, trying to survive; and most importantly, the ‘child of the dust,’ the children born to these relationships, torn between two cultures, neither of which ever fully accepts them.
The author writes with a sense of ‘having been there,’ that will pull you into the story and hold you in its iron grip until the end. The characters, even those who act badly, come across as real people, and the history is, in as far as I can remember that far back, accurately described.
It has been said that those who fail to remember the past are condemned to repeat it. While there are parts of the past that will probably always be repeated, this glance backwards might just point out a few things that we could do differently.
A great read which I give four stars.