ESCAPING THE TIGER by Laura Manivong


Age Range: 11 & up
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After fleeing across the Mekong River and nearly drowning in the process, 12-year-old Lao Vonlai, his older sister, Dalah, and his parents are confined to an overcrowded refugee camp in Thailand in 1982 to wait for resettlement in a Western country. Food is scarce, and camp conditions are horrific, with little to sustain the family but a sense of community and dwindling hope, as months of confinement become years. Vonlai befriends an aging Lao colonel who teaches him woodcarving and determination, and he valiantly protects his sister from the ever-present danger of sexual assault. Even after eventual resettlement, it is clear that many challenges remain for the teen and his family. Basing the story on her husband’s childhood experiences, the author documents the refugees’ harrowing plight in riveting episodes that capture the hardships endured by these too-often forgotten people and also illustrate Vonlai’s difficult coming of age. A sad afterword that pairs perfectly with the fictionalized tale summarizes the real-life experiences of Anousone Manivong, adding further depth to an already moving tale. Essential. (Historical fiction. 11 & up)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-06-166177-8
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2010


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