Monday, April 24, 2017

Across the Mekong River by Elaine Russell

Across the Mekong River is a moving story about one family’s struggle to survive and escape the deadly regime in Thailand in 1978. Ms. Lee’s father was a freedom fighter punished for his role against the regime made their life one of narrow escapes and a fear fueled life on the run.  Losing her two small brothers haunted her mother for life making her depression debilitating leaving Nou to pick up the pieces at a very early age. 
Once her entire family migrates to the U.S. she faces a different struggle.  A struggle of fitting in, finding herself and spreading her wings.  Tormented by family tradition, beliefs and values, Nou must make choices.  Those choices are heart rending and devastating for even the strongest and oldest.
Elaine Russell takes her time with this story building it carefully and fully.  The descriptions are perfect and easy to visualize.  The emotions leap off the page and encircle the reader, making the experiences and emotions very real.  It is clearly so much more than a tale of relocation and embracing old and new traditions, it is also about finding one’s self and choosing how to live. 
The journey experienced by each member of this family is moving and heart wrenching.  Their inability to move beyond “old world” traditions speaks to everyone in all cultures and all ages.
Russell grips her readers in an engaging tale that they can speak to on one level or another.  It is interesting how Russell also captures the struggle between Lee and her need to be accepted by her American friends culminating in a clash between her parent’s old world and her new one.
 This was a book that I found I could not put down, nor could I write the review immediately as there were just too many emotions that I wanted to identify and explore. 
This book is rich in culture, emotion, energy, struggle, challenges and … life.  One cannot truly know the life or plight of another until they take the time to learn. 
Well written with strong character development, this book is moving and passionate.  
WorldsAPlenty highly recommends this book and awards a five-star review. Russell’s talent for passionate story telling is unrivaled. 

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