Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman's Journey from War to Peace” as Want to Read:
When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman's Journey from War to Peace
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman's Journey from War to Peace

by
4.13  ·  Rating details ·  3,016 ratings  ·  291 reviews
A memoir of the Vietnam war from a woman's point of view - seen through the eyes of a child who survived the horror.

Le Ly Hayslip, the inspiration for the musical "Miss Saigon", tells the story of a young peasant girl's struggle to survive. Pressed into service at the age of 12 by the Vietcong, Le Ly Hayslip was captured and tortured by government forces. She found sanctu
...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published 1990 by Plume (first published April 29th 1989)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about When Heaven and Earth Changed Places, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about When Heaven and Earth Changed Places

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,016 ratings  ·  291 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman's Journey from War to Peace
Thomas
A powerful memoir about a Vietnamese American woman who lived through the Vietnam War as a young Vietnamese girl in the 1960s. I loved Le Ly Hayslip’s honest, visceral descriptions of what it felt like living in Vietnam as well as the horrible impacts of war. She shares her raw, unfiltered perspective on watching family, friends, and community members get incarcerated and/or killed, living in a state of constant distrust and uncertainty about her safety and the safety of those she cares about, a ...more
Rebecca
Jul 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is the closest I have ever come to understanding the horror of war. You are in the story and with her the whole time.
Ming Wei
I read this book many years ago, and I still remember how powerful, emotional, and in some parts upseting the book was. Set in the 1960s Vietnam, life was a living hell for many of the population and this books clever story telling drags the reader into the nightmare. What you expect from a story line engulfed in a war torn country, were simple, innocent average people do what ever they can to survive. I have to place this book in my favourites list. Would like to read it again in the future.
Eric_W
Dec 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Part of the problem reading history is that sometimes one tends to look at the overall picture; the strategic view, rather than the impact of an event on the individual Le Ly Hayslip has recounted her family's personal experiences during the Vietnam war from the perspective of those caught in the middle. Her story portrays the agony of the destruction of a centuries-old way of life and the ruination of a country. The village she lived in, Ky La, was just a tiny fanning village, one surely no one ...more
ABC
Jan 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teens-and-adults
This book was hard to read at times, so I put it down and took a break from torture, rape, and the horrible deaths contained in its pages. However, it is DEFINITELY worth reading to get one woman's viewpoint of the situation in Vietnam during the sixties. I like that she seems unbiased. She does not particulary seem to take the side of the North, or the South, or the Americans. (Although she did become American, and seems patriotic to both Viet Nam and the U.S.)

If you live in a country where vi
...more
Amy
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
This book is the closest I will ever get to understanding my father's childhood as a peasant in South Vietnam during the war that Americans know as the Vietnam War and the Vietnamese know as the American War.

I heard vaguer, child-censored versions of my dad's stories of the pressures of two sides (Viet Cong & Republican) in his village, and the euphemism of being taken away for "personal discussion" by the Viet Cong, but reading this memoir of a woman with different-yet-similar experiences durin
...more
Alisa
Feb 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have mixed feelings about this book. It literally took me years to read---because it didn't grab my attention and beg to be read every day. After visiting Vietnam, I wanted to understand the war from a local's perspective, and I think this book achieves this exactly. The author grows up in a central village that is torn between the Viet Cong and Republican (the side the US was on) forces--and they have to feign allegiance to both of them at different times, in order to survive. I believe it ga ...more
Kathy
Aug 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are planning a trip to Vietnam....this book is a must read. Author wrote her memoir in 1989, telling of her childhood during the Vietnam War. Family members served on different sides. Continues to her life as a young woman surviving in the war torn country....and then her escape to the United States. She returns to Vietnam in 1986, to visit family and to gather material for her book. How had life changed? Who do you trust. I thank Nancy B. for recommending this book. What will we find whe ...more
Vanessa
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great intimate look at why some joined the North in the war and what some had to endure just to survive. Also, was a great way to start a dialogue with my parents about their own experiences and what they thought about the narrative in this book.
Ian G
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4⭐

Essential for anyone wishing to understand the thinking of those caught up in the late war in Vietnam. A window into the culture and belief system of the ordinary people, through the story of one extraordinary woman.
Kay
Mar 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We all know war is a bad thing, but reading this book really gives an insight as to how it damages the land over which its raged. The way community and life is ripped to pieces and the fabric of society unravels and is rewoven as something less appealing is well portrayed. To come through this and be able to share the story as well as attempt to rebuild and heal says a lot for the authoress.

The violence is never glorified, nor is the atrocities, but told in a way that taps into your emotions and
...more
Donna
This book is a nonfiction autobiography of one woman's life in Vietnam during the war. This contains much tragedy as this woman returns to her home country after having lived in the U.S. for a while. She toggles back and forth from her reunion with her family that stayed in Vietnam and the memories she had while growing up in a war torn country. There are scenes that were hard to get through. There was so much rape in this. It was so sad that this was someone's reality.

This book posed some seri
...more
Kim Tran
An incredibly inspirational and heartbreaking story how a Vietnamese war victim survived and grew peace in her soul.

This memoir, for a long time, was in my to-read list as a sheer willing to gain a deeper insight into the war my beloved ones had gone through while we young generation had no concept about. Because my language was limited to fully get the writer's flowery words, it took much longer than expected to keep my promise, which is, to finish the book before 30 April, the Reunification Da
...more
Tammy Stathelson
This is actually the first book I think I have ever read about the Vietnam War. It certainly gives a different perspective than that of an American GI. I have always believed this war was simply about the spread of communism and how we, the American People, had to stop it at all cost. Those were some pretty high costs and I don't think we accomplished much of anything except the loss of life on both the American and Vietnamese sides.
Jimmy
Jun 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war-vietnam
It is always the regular people trying to make a living and feed their families and live their own lives who suffer the most in war. They couldn't care less about socialism or capitalism or communism or any other form of government. They just want a good government that supports them and helps them to live their lives in peace.
Janet
In reference to a number of reviews of this book I noticed, I encourage everyone to read more than one book about the Vietnam War. If you only have time to read one book about the subject, please don't read this one.
Teresa Goethe
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book greatly helped me to understand the history and Vietnamese perspective of the conflict that ravaged Vietnam from the 1950s into the 70s. The resilience of Le Ly Hayslip and her messages of the importance of compassion and forgiveness are very inspiring.
Audrey
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“For you see, the face of destiny or luck or god that gives us war also gives us other kinds of pain: the loss of health and youth; the loss of loved ones or of love; the fear that we will end our days alone. Some people suffer in peace the way others suffer in war. The special gift of that suffering, I have learned, is how to be strong while we are weak, how to be brave when we are afraid, how to be wise in the midst of confusion, and how to let go of that which we can no longer hold. In this w ...more
Phanindra
If you read about the Vietnam war on the web, you will know all the facts about it. You can also have a political perspective - that the communists defeated America or that America stood by the people. But you will never know what war really means - how it impacts the country, how it destroys families, and how it flares up greed, selfishness and inhumanity in the ordinary people. As the author's father tells her in the book, "Do not hate the people, hate the war for making them like that".

This
...more
Julie
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
the most excruciating tale I have ever read about war. When Heaven and Earth Changed Places is Le Ly Hayslip's experience growing up in Vietnam's countryside just before the Second Indochina War (Vietnam War) began. as if growing up during war characterized by guerrilla warfare wasn't enough, Le Ly's village rests on the border between South and North Vietnam. thus, Le Ly's village as well her little mind are in a constant tug-o-war between Republican and Viet Cong soldiers. Le Ly was beaten mul ...more
Moo
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommended to read and learn the perspective of a peasant girl growing up during the Vietnam War. She implies wrongdoings on all political sides of the war, although there was plenty more room for harsher and detailed criticism. Hayslip stays on the safe side, taking a more neutral political stance and focuses her opinions on general anti-war sentiments, possibly to appear generally favorable by both Americans and Vietnamese—there are political factors in the publishing world itself, tak ...more
Michael Andersen-Andrade
There are no winners or losers in war, just victims and survivors. Le Ly Hayslip brings the agony and hardship of the Vietnam War to life. I read this book in and around Da Nang, where much of the book takes place. Her book brought those streets and villages alive and populated them with the ghosts of her family and her people. Vietnam was forever altered by the war. While all sides contributed to the suffering, it is clear that the United States had no business in Vietnam and its rationalizatio ...more
Megan Sharma
Jul 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
This is the truly amazing story of a woman who grew up in central vietnam during the war and eventually found her way to America. Excellently written, terrifying and extremely poignant, it's hard to believe that anyone could go through so much and still have any faith in the human spirit. Seriously--it's sounds like depressing subject matter, but this is a must read.
Laurelle
Sep 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favourite books. I bought a badly printed version off a beggar child in a Vietnamese bar because I felt sorry for him. I didn't expect to devour it! I have lots of books in storage but this one always comes with me when I move.
Carolyn
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Vietnamese girl grows up through all of the wars that wash over Vietnam. She becomes a "boat person" to the US, then returns to Vietnam as an adult. Fascinating, beautifully written and a real lesson in what happened in Vietnam.
Ann
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an unforgettable, honest, emotionally resonant memoir of growing up in wartime Vietnam. Wow.
Final Frontier Books
Read this review and others on my blog, Final Frontier Books!

So, why should you read this book?
Experiences of the Vietnam War are misunderstood, I think. Certainly, I had never read about the experience of a Vietnamese peasant during the war up until this point, and I'm glad I did because not only has it given me insight into a difficult conflict, but also on subjects like forgiveness and kindness.

My opinion
Le Ly Hayslip was a teenage Vietnamese peasant girl at the time of the Vietnam War, and s
...more
John Ratliffe
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
We all know that war is horrible, but it takes a book like this to make us realize just how horrible it is. This is war as experienced by a little girl, and later as a young woman, starting in an obscure farming village outside of Danang. The conflict seesaws through the village day-to-day from one side and then the other starting with the French--the village called them Moroccans, through the Republicans--government soldiers out of Saigon, and through the ubiquitous Viet-Cong to the Americans. ...more
Jim Drewery
Dec 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author does a splendid job of revealing to the reader the horrors of war and how the untold casualties of any war are inevitably not just those who serve in combat, but the millions of innocent people whose lives are forever uprooted and irrevocably altered by the hell on earth that is war. She shows clearly how war is very much like a terrible disease which devours the humanity from its participants and shows no mercy to any innocent which has the misfortune to end up in its path. Through ...more
Megan Brizzell
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For my research paper on Vietnam I chose to read the book "When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman's Journey from War to Peace". Though at times the book was extremely graphic, I enjoyed it thoroughly.

The narrator, Le Ly, is the youngest of six children born to peasant farmers in Ka Ly, a town on the central coast of Vietnam. Since she is the sixth child, her name actually means "sixth child" so her parents would know who she is. She has a close relationship with her parents, w
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam
  • The Sorrow Of War: A Novel of North Vietnam
  • When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge
  • The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars
  • The Sacred Willow: Four Generations in the Life of a Vietnamese Family
  • First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers
  • The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine
  • Survival in the Killing Fields
  • Born on the Fourth of July
  • Dumb Luck
  • The Quiet American
  • This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War
  • A Vietcong Memoir: An Inside Account of the Vietnam War and Its Aftermath
  • One Drop: My Father's Hidden Life--A Story of Race and Family Secrets
  • The Girl in the Picture: The Story of Kim Phuc, the Photograph, and the Vietnam War
  • Last Night I Dreamed of Peace: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram
  • Chain of Gold (The Last Hours, #1)
  • The Captain and the Glory: An Entertainment
See similar books…
22 followers
Le Ly Hayslip is a Vietnamese-American memoirist and humanitarian. She was born in Ky La, now Xa Hao Qui, a small town in central Vietnam just south of Da Nang. She was the sixth and youngest child born to farmers. American helicopters landed in her village when she was 12 years old. At the age of 14, she endured torture in a South Vietnamese government prison for "revolutionary sympathies". She f ...more

News & Interviews

You’d think that with, well, everything this year has had in store for us, readers would flock to sweet stories with happy endings. But as...
179 likes · 66 comments
“For you see, the face of destiny or luck or god that gives us war also gives us other kinds of pain: the loss of health and youth; the loss of loved ones or of love; the fear that we will end our days alone. Some people suffer in peace the way others suffer in war. The special gift of that suffering, I have learned, is how to be strong while we are weak, how to be brave when we are afraid, how to be wise in the midst of confusion, and how to let go of that which we can no longer hold. In this way, anger can teach us forgiveness, hate can teach us love, and war can teach us peace.” 19 likes
“The past, for everyone, is full of missed chances, surviving to understand them, if not set them straight, is one of the things that makes the next breath worth taking.” 13 likes
More quotes…