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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Bookworm Meet-Up: Book Review

Title: Orphan 32
Author: Thanh Cambpell
Publisher: Hope for the World Productions, 2013
Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir, Inspirational

First Lines:
I don't claim to be a historian, yet in order to share my story, I thought it might help if I set the context of the era in which I was born.
The Vietnam War started in 1954. It was a civil war that was to reunify the Southeast Asian country of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh was a communist dictator who wanted to subdue the democratic republic to the south... 
Goodreads Description:

Nearly two decades long, the Vietnam War was one of history's devastating battles. More bombs were dropped than both World Wars put together. Lives were destroyed and families torn apart.

In 1975, the last flight out of Vietnam rescued 57 war orphans before the Communists took over the south capital of Saigon. En route to Canada, Nguyen Ngoc Minh Thanh was aboard that flight. He was Orphan #32.

Thanh's story began like many other Vietnamese orphans on Operation Babylift, but as he later discovered, his path had taken a much different direction from the rest.

Orphan 32 will take you on a remarkable journey of life, love and self-discovery.

My Review:

This book was chosen for our monthly book club by a member who knows both pilots and had met the author at a Probus meeting. A charming man and wonderful speaker, he had a wonderful story she felt everyone could relate to.

It's true - at some point we all have to figure out who we are. Thanh's story will connect especially with adoptees or those who grow up without one of his/her parents. There are unanswered (perhaps unanswerable) questions about heritage, family, culture, and how one comes by certain physical features, habits, ways of thinking. 

Orphan 32 is not great writing. It could have benefited from the feedback of a solid writers' group or editor and was evidently self-published. On one page I counted several repetitions of the word "special", for example. There could have been more tension and build-up for the reader. That being said, it's true that Thanh has a unique and ultimately heart-warming story to tell. Had he not been lifted out of Vietnam, there is no knowing what his life would look like today, or if he would have even survived. 

Today Thanh is grateful for his Canadian family and life as well as for the connections he was able to make with other Vietnamese "orphans" who were airlifted out of Saigon. An emotional trip to Vietnam with his family has brought some closure and opened up new opportunities to understand his origins and place in the world. No doubt there are more stories to be written as his life continues.

At 138 pages with lots of pictures and scanned documents, this is a quick read.

My favourite lines from the book speak this truth:
Th sun never stops shining above the clouds. It is also a lesson that I have learned in my life, it is the vantage point that one is assuming at the moment that determines what he or she experiences. So much of our life is lived from one perspective, but there is always another one. If you allow yourself to consider it, the scene is a whole lot different.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars 


  1. Will suggest it to my book club.

    1. Let me know what you/they think, if you read it!


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