Dragon House made me feel so many things all at once that I had to write to John and tell him. I was so touched that he wrote back immediately, and even that he considered replying me. He was completely down to earth and friendly. He told me he is working on his next book about the Tsunami in 2004 that ravaged many South East Asian communities. I cannot wait. Before I begin writing about his books, I have to say he has a genuine sense and knowledge of the people of South East Asia, it surprised me that he saw things others would most likely miss i.e. the catch 22 between the very necessary tourism industry and the heart breaking prostitution that comes with it. The tradition of a wishing tree and what it means to be part of a family. Food and its important role in Asian culture. There is such a subtleness about his writing and so much compassion that I fell for his books immediately.
Dragon House awakens the human spirit like no other. It teaches you to find compassion when you have lost faith in everything and everyone other than the basic need to survive or die. What a beautiful story this is; It is Vietnam in all its glory. So much depends on tourism boosting the economy, yet, feelings of bitterness over the Vietnam war still linger amongst the older generation. Through sickness and abandonment, we learn of the strengths in Vietnamese culture. They smile through pain, they love through pain and all they need is a little healing, a little compassion, a little belief. I learned a lot from Minh and Mai; my favorite street children. Though exploited by their drug addict boss, they learn to survive not only the pain that comes with starving for days and living on the street but the breaking of their lively spirit. Little Tam’s story made me so emotional that I wanted to stop but couldn’t. Loved all of the characters Shors created in this book, most of all the street children to whom this book lends a voice. Yes, I even felt some sympathy for the drug addict. I could tell you more, but want you to find out for yourself. So please read.
Wishing Trees is the second book I read that Shors has written. My very first John Shors book led me to the rest and that book is ‘Beneath the Marble Sky.’ You must read it if you can.
If you have children, this books will tug at your heart, make you sob, want to write letters and make a plan all at the same time. It will teach you about a recurring theme in Shors books; healing compassion. Mattie felt like my daughter. I wanted to hug her at every turn. There were no amazing twists and turns, no dramatic confrontations, what there is in this book is plenty of strength, heart and amazing discoveries of the most beautiful and ancient Eastern traditions along with its people. You will visit country after country and learn of its special people. There are critics of course, and I see what they mean about a frustrating end. It is just that I saw more. Please enjoy, I did.
I look forward to writing about ‘ Beside a Burning Sea’, I can’t wait to see where it takes me.