Catherine's Reviews > The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir

The Latehomecomer by Kao Kalia Yang
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's review
Jul 10, 2009

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bookshelves: 2009, 50books_poc, nonwhite_us, thailand, laos

This is a beautiful memoir, deftly written, and the arc of three generations of women's lives gives a wonderful resiliency to the text. There are repeated images - walking; typing; struggling to speak - but within the disparate worlds of Laos, Thailand, and the United States each theme takes on a different resonance. The author's focus on words - spoken, then written, and the relationship between the two in more than one language - is haunting, and I got chills when she wrote an essay in high school, typing with her index fingers through the night, the act recalling her mother's dream of marrying an educated man and learning to type with quick, agile fingers.

I suspect this is a book that I'll be thinking of for a long time - it feels as if it's slipped slowly into my bloodstream and there's more within the pages than I understand right now. But I'm grateful that it exists, that Kao Kalia Yang was able to capture the stories that so many Hmong lost in the jungles of war-torn Laos, and that her words challenge us to think about the precious stories we lose among the textbooks and history classes and newspaper headlines of a cheerfully amnesiac United States.
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