From School Library Journal
Grade 5-9–Warren relates the story of the 1975 Operation Babylift as seen through the eyes of Long, an eight-year-old Amerasian boy who was part of the airlift. The author uses narrative and reconstructions of conversations from interviews with those involved to trace Long's life, beginning with his indistinct memories of his American father and his more vivid recollections of his Vietnamese mother's suicide and his grandmother's struggle to protect and support him during wartime. She describes his stay at the Saigon orphanage operated by Holt International Children's Services, which housed, schooled, and arranged for his adoption by an American family. Long recalls the fear and excitement during the fall of Saigon, his journey out of Vietnam, his sorrow at the separation from his grandmother, and his emotional transition to his new identity as Matt Steiner. The book concludes with a moving account of Matt's 1995 return to Vietnam, where he finally understood the magnitude of the sacrifice his grandmother made for his safety and future. Photos of Long in both Vietnam and America illustrate the text. Although Warren mentions the cruelties of the communist Vietnamese government and America's abandonment of its South Vietnamese allies, this is a personal story, one that is so well written that it will be sure to hold readers' attention. An outstanding choice.–Mary Mueller, Rolla Junior High School, MO
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*Starred Review* Gr. 5-12. At the end of the Vietnam War, eight-year-old Amerasian orphan named Long fled his country and found a loving home with his adoptive family in Ohio. With a new name, Matt Steiner, he grew up to be high-school valedictorian and athletic star, and now he is a doctor with his own happy family. But this stirring photo-essay is more than a rags-to-riches story. Always true to the child's viewpoint, Warren's clear narrative, with many documentary photos, begins as the boy struggles to survive in Vietnam, then describes the anguish of his abandonment by a loving grandmother no longer able to care for him; the kindness of rescuers at the orphanage, who arranged his adoption; and his terrifying evacuation on a plane under fire. The child-at-war story and the facts about the Operation Babylift rescue are tense and exciting. Just as gripping is the boy's personal conflict: his struggle to become American; his attempt to deny his sadness at what he left behind; and, finally, his pride in his roots ("I will never forget that my American heart is half Vietnamese"). Framing the biography is fascinating information, including Warren's account of the evacuation of her own adopted baby daughter on Operation Babylift; discussion about international adoption and Amerasian children; and a lengthy annotated list of sources. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved