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Laura Manivong

Escaping The Tiger 1st (and now 2nd) Review

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Escaping The Tiger 1st (and now 2nd) Review

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I've been hanging out here lately (http://bit.ly/9Irpd), but thought I'd drop in . And if you're not on Twitter, Facebook, or Verla Kay's blueboards, then you might not have heard me breathe a huge sigh of relief. So just in case, here's ESCAPING THE TIGER's first review from Uma Krishnaswami. It's wonderful to share this with other book lovers, so thank you!

This debut novel for upper elementary and middle school-aged readers tells the story of Vonlai Sirivong who is twelve at its opening and sixteen at its conclusion. In between we witness his first frantic escape with his family from their native Laos, then in the hands of the dreaded Pathet Lao. We follow them to refugee camps in Thailand before they finally gain admittance to the United States. Escaping the Tiger is a deeply felt story, simply told. Vonlai’s relationship with his older sister Dalah, and his shifting role relative to his parents, constitute the heart of this story. As he forges a place for himself despite the gritty conditions of the camp, playing soccer and waiting for an endless series of papers that bring in turn food, education, and finally freedom, he comes to understand what really matters in life. Manivong has created a believable protagonist, and she does not shy away from depicting the difficult living conditions in the Na Pho refugee camp. There are many threats to Vonlai’s family, including the near-rape of his sister. Nor does the story default to an undilutedly happy ending—instead we come to care about characters who make unexpected decisions, or who are left behind. Based on the author’s husband’s own experiences, this is a vivid and lovingly drawn tale of people caught in the crossroads of history and struggling to retain both dignity and hope.

BIBLIO: 2010, HarperCollins, Ages 10 to 14, $15.99.
REVIEWER: Uma Krishnaswami
FORMAT: Middle Grade
ISBN: 978-0-06-166177-8

Edited to add:
And now this from Linda Sue Park!

How will I ever top this day?
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