When Heaven and Earth Changed Places

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Brittany Simmons
January 14th, 2011
Second period HOA
Book review

Hayslip,Le Ly. When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman’s Journey from War to Peace. Charles J. Wurts. New York City: The Penguin Group, 1989.

Le Ly Hayslip was born on December 19, 1949 in Ky La (now Xa Hoa Qui) Vietnam. Le Ly was the sixth child and the youngest out of her family. At the age of twenty-one, she and her two sons came to America to start her new life with her husband. In 1988, Le Ly Hayslip founded the "East Meets West Foundation", a humanitarian relief organization. Le Ly has written the book: Child of War, Woman of Peace.

This book is a biography about Le Ly during her early years that was spent as a Viet Cong courier and lookout; a black marketer; an unwed mother; a bar girl; a hospital aide; and a prostitute. She was tortured by the South Vietnamese army, raped by Viet Cong, and harassed by Americans. This story is compared with the tale of her difficult return to Vietnam in 1986. Her account is a part of the Vietnamese conflict that we seldom hear, of the survivors in the middle; it concludes with a plea for both sides to put the war behind them.

This book is very important, especially for those of us who have grown up and spent our lives in the USA. It gives us something vital that we lack: the experience of living in a country where war is waged. Our world grows smaller every day, and whatever our government does elsewhere ultimately comes home to roost. This is in part because refugees like Ms. Hayslip, who wash up on our shores, become part of the fabric of our country; both the damage they suffer and the triumph they attain become part of the collective "ours." We can no longer afford to operate without empathy; those we kill are our neighbors, or at the very least, our neighbors' cousins. And so, this book is both important and timely. They forgave us after the long. They learned to be “strong while we are weak and brave when we are...
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