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arang is the Thai word for foreigner, and this novel is taken up with the variation on the theme of interchange between peoples. Ruth Pearson and her son Jordie, a strikingly tall and brilliant thirteen-year-old, come to Bangkok on the same plane as pretty young Rosa Suphan, an American girl, and her Siamese husband Chula. Ruth is welcomed by the open arms of her Pan Am husband Glenn; Rosa is coolly received by her mother-in-law. Ruth's experiences with the servants, friendships, adventures in finding something to do that is more than a pastime (she tries learning French, decides to teach English); Jordie's explorations take on a more active, at times violent turn (he is once robbed of all his clothes when he gives money to beggar children; and he visits an opium den); Rosa's sad lesson in Thai family law (she is looked out of her home, divorced, deprived of her child Lamai) form the burden of the book. As time passes, Jordie's friendship with Japanese Zoe deepens, and he determines to prove to her that races can get along together. Robert Arneson, half Thai, half American, is a further figure in the complex of color to be dealt with -- his bitter life changes when he departs with Rosa. The Pearsons too leave, with their Siamese born daughter Tinka and the assurance from a servant friend of forgiveness for an unfounded assusation of theft. The story is only skin deep here; it's the message that counts.

Pub Date: Aug. 26th, 1964
Publisher: ?arcourt, Brace & World