Vanessa Juarez
April 11, 2008 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Latehomecomers

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Kao Kalia Yang
publisher
Coffee House Press
genre
Nonfiction, Memoir

We gave it an B+

When your grandmother once outran a tiger, you know perseverance is in your blood. Meet the Yangs, a Hmong family who evaded Pathet Lao soldiers after the Vietnam War by crossing the Mekong River into Thailand, only to float between refugee camps for eight years. They found asylum in Minnesota, but lived on welfare. The toll all of this takes on readers is lightened by Kao Kalia Yang’s tranquil descriptions of the cultural divide — e.g., the smell of green parrot soap compared with Head & Shoulders shampoo — in The Latehomecomers,a narrative packed with the stuff of life. B+

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