New in Canada and unable even to understand the language, Tuyet faces a painful operation to straighten an ankle bent by polio years earlier in Vietnam.
Skrypuch continues the story she began in Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War (2012), but it’s not necessary to have read the first to appreciate this true story of healing. Drawing on her subject’s reminiscences, the author describes Tuyet’s operation and subsequent recovery with sympathy and respect. Although this takes place in 1975, it seems immediate. Seven-year-old Tuyet secretly dreams of being able to kick a ball and play with other children. As long as she can remember, she has only been able to watch. Shortly after her adoption by the Morris family, a Vietnamese-speaking woman comes to explain that she will be having an operation. After, another Vietnamese speaker visits her in the hospital and gives her a piece of paper with Vietnamese and English words she can point to when she needs something. Otherwise, this brave child endures this frightening experience without the ability to communicate. Her eventual joy at having red shoes that match and, even better, a brace and ugly brown built-up shoe that allow her to stand on her own two feet, is infectious.
Readers of this moving refugee story will celebrate as well. (Nonfiction. 9-12)