Wednesday, July 29, 2009

House of Sixty Fathers

I had a theme in my reading this month, I guess, as I also read a story about youth in the French Resistance during WWII. Two stories about children during war. Very interesting.

I started this book with no knowledge about it whatsoever. I also read a book this month called "The Land That I Lost" about a man's memories of growing up in Vietnam. It was a sweet, funny story. I think I went into "Sixty Fathers" expecting it to be a sweet tale of a child growing up in China. So I was a bit surprised when I suddenly realized I was reading a tale of a boy, separated from his family, starving to death in a war zone. Not exactly a light and cheerful topic, but the author managed to keep the novel from being dark and heavy. I appreciated that because otherwise stories about struggling children can be too difficult to read.

As I read the story, the cynic in me kept thinking, "what the odds, what are the odds", while the romantic in me loved that all my wishes were eventually fulfilled and they all lived happily ever after. I don't know. What did you guys think? Did you think that the events were too fantastical to actually have happened? After finishing the story I read a little segment that said the events are very loosely based on an actual person. The author never was able to find out the actual end of that person's story, so he crafted his he would have wanted it to be.

However. I did like the courage of little Tien Pao and the determination he had to find his family. He was a very brave little man. I loved how he took such good care of Glory-of-the-Republic and protected him from the hungry refugees. I loved the examples of human kindness at a time when showing any kindness was an obvious sacrifice. Last night I was watching the rest of a Harry Potter movie with Josh. There is a scene in which Dumbledore explains to Harry that we all have both good and bad in us - it is the choices we make and the actions we take that show our true character. I thought about that in regards to "Sixty Fathers" - how war brings out the darkest side of humanity - and yet people continue to show the good side of their character. And I think it is this personal conquering of our baser instincts that is the true winning of the war.

Thanks for a good read. I'll be reading another Meindert DeJong book this fall with my daughter. I'm looking foward to it!

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