Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Latehomecomer, Finale

I finished The Latehomecomer. I really enjoyed this book. Sometimes it's easy to think that someone as young as Lang Yang - 28 - doesn't have enough to say for a memoir. But, I think she fills the pages well. I don't think we always understand what a struggle immigration is for groups of people like the Hmong (or Somali, etc.). All they're looking for is a better life than the one they came from, but imagine moving to a country with a different language and completely different customs and trying to fit in. I don't know if I could do it. Which makes books like this one all the more powerful for me. Her family is very strong and she and her siblings went on to do great things (Yang and her sister co-founder Words Wanted, an agency dedicated to helping immigrants with writing, translating and business services.)

Here is one of my favorite passages from the book. When she sees her mother crying because her grandmother in Laos passed away (the last time Lang's Yang's mother saw her was during the war), Lang Yang describes her feelings:

I realized then that my mother had left her mother, the woman who had loved her best in the entire world, to walk with my father toward this life with us. I felt worried that perhaps I'd been selfish. I felt sorry for the decisions a Hmong woman faced, the decisions that this Hmong woman - who I had never seen as such, simply because she was my mother - had made. Why does love in a war always mean choosing? Her mother or my father? The country that gave birth to her or the one that would give birth to me? The little girl she had been or the woman she would become? For the first time, I knew the sadness of choice in my mother's life. I had a glimpse of the world she was working hard to protect me from, to keep me young in, this education and pursuit of a life she never had a chance at. I have the freedom to stand strong in the wake of love and to perhaps choose my own mother - instead of a man.

1 comment:

Victoria Winters said...

Interesting that the Hmong keeps crossing my path. I watched Anthony Bourdain last week, which took place in Laos, and now I'm reading "When the Spirit Catches You, You Fall Down" about Hmong patients misdiagnosed in California due to the language and cultural barriers. Weird.