The rough road of a refugee and immigrant.
Born six months before the Japanese invaded Java during World War II, the author was whisked away to exile in Jakarta along with her mother, siblings and other female relatives. She didn’t meet her father, who was imprisoned during the war, until she was six years old. When he returned home, he was a broken and remote man who barely acknowledged the daughter desperate for his attention. The signing of treaties did not mean a return to normalcy for the author’s family; as mixed-race Dutch Indonesians, they became targets of rising Indonesian nationalist sentiment. As a result, when Indonesia gained its independence, they emigrated to the Netherlands, and later, due to her father’s health, to Southern California. At an early age, Van Metta discovered a passion for dancing, and soon after arriving in San Diego, she landed a job as a dance instructor. At the studio, she fell quickly for Eldon, the wildly charismatic studio manager, and became pregnant soon thereafter. Her marriage to Eldon, instead of causing her to settle into family life, was the beginning of a frantic 12-year roller coaster through swinger’s parties, prostitution and exotic dancing, all driven by her husband’s insatiable, pathologically selfish and often violent need for sex, power and money. Making Change is a harrowing read, not only because of what the author and her three children endured, but also because of the depths of the author’s denial, fear and self-degradation. She is quite frank about her profound naivete and weakness during those years, and she doesn’t seek forgiveness or pity. The telling is direct, and though the mechanics of the writing would benefit from some polishing, the story comes through.
The American Dream, with quite a few bumps along the way.