Jana Laiz's Weeping Under This Same Moon (Crow Flies Press), a fictionalized account of a true story, follows two teenage girls whose lives seem as different as they are distant. Ethnic Chinese Mei must sacrifice the comforts and familiarity of home to lead two of her younger siblings away from the dangers of a post-war, anti-Chinese Vietnam. Their journey takes them on a treacherous boat ride and through a desolate refugee camp. In the suburbs of the United States, Hannah, a passionate 17-year-old who is unappealingly self-righteous in the way that only a self-pitying, outcast teenager can be, must negotiate the trials of high school. As the narrative tumbles toward their inevitable meeting, parallels begin to emerge. Mei channels her creativity into watercolors, while Hannah finds hers behind the lens of a camera. They both try to keep their younger siblings safe in spite of their own fears of the wider world. In the end, this young-adult novel reveals not only the story of Vietnam's "boat people" but the importance of family, passion, and community service, not only for the recipient but (and often more so) for the volunteer as well.
Mon., March 15, 7:30 p.m., 2010
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