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Sunrise in Saigon

Sunrise in Saigon by Patrick Greenwood is a fiction story based on real events that happened in Vietnam during and after the war. Jack Kendall is an eleven-year-old boy at the time of the fall of Saigon in 1975. Still, many of his questions about the war are not answered until more than thirty-five years later when he makes a trip to Vietnam as an adult after health issues cause him to reexamine his current life. There he meets a woman who he had been communicating with online, and spending time with her takes his mind off his unhappy marriage. But is their relationship worth the risk? And is there any chance that they can be together forever?

I liked how this story spanned several decades of Jack’s life, starting in his childhood and into adulthood, giving the reader more insight into his character and his continuing interest in what happened to the Vietnamese people after the war when the American armed forces left the country. The author included many historical details and vivid descriptions of life in Vietnam and how the people there were still affected four decades after the war. I enjoyed reading about how Jack stepped in to help fix problems at a water plant during his trip to Vietnam. It was admirable that he wanted to take steps in his life to improve his health and mindset, and I liked that he took up cycling. The ending of this book surprised me, and I liked that it was unexpected.

Some of the decisions Jack made in the pursuit of so-called happiness and love were not exceptionally honorable and had detrimental effects on his family life. Jack and Linh’s infidelity is a vital part of this story, and how they are both looking for a connection that is lacking in their current relationships. Finding the answers to his long-held questions about Vietnam seemed secondary to his affair with Linh, especially during his first trip, giving readers a deeper look at his emotional state and his desire for deep emotional connections.

Overall, Sunrise in Saigon is a captivating read that will take the reader on an emotional journey alongside Jack and his quest for happiness. Some relationships are meant to last forever, some just for a moment. This novel shows readers that those moments are no less meaningful and impactful in our lives than the relationships that last for years.

Pages: 325 | ASIN : B0BMNGVK4Z

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Dogs Don’t Cook 

In Dogs Don’t Cook by author Catherine Alexander, Thomas ‘Hatch’ Hatchfield was an artist. It was all he dreamed of being from the time he picked up a crayon. Then came the Vietnam war. Returning from the war as a veteran, he was scarred by his experiences and struggled with homelessness and alcohol addiction. Judged by society and all but abandoned by what’s left of his family, Hatch’s only real friend is his dog, Bud. Dog lovers won’t be surprised to know that Bud is a loyal straight-talker and doesn’t shy away from telling Hatch honest truths about things even when it is painful.

With no family that wants to help him, Hatch eventually stumbles into meeting the practical and kind-hearted Rosa, who becomes his real family. She gives him a place to live and work and inspires him to get back on his feet and start to create art again. The relationship between Hatch and Rosa is beautiful and shows that kindness is still out there in the world.

Hatch is a very clearly drawn character with a distinctive voice written from a first-person perspective. You are immediately drawn into his world and can’t help but find yourself firmly on his side right from the beginning. The Vietnam war period sets the backdrop for Hatch’s journey, and it provides a timely and poignant commentary on the war in general. I felt that in a couple of instances, elements of the story seemed to be dropped in for convenience without being fully developed or resolved, like the handling of Hatch’s brief love interest. There is a stark contrast in the portrayal of Hatch as a hopeless drunk vs. him sober, without a lot of transition between the two stages. Watching Hatch emerge from his drunken fog and reclaim parts of his former self is heartwarming.

Dogs Don’t Cook is a moving story of love, loss, family, and triumph over considerable adversity. This historical war fiction novel captures the emotions many returning vets felt and shows some of the challenges they endured once returning to America. Hatch is the character who stays with you long after you finish the book.

Pages: 266 | ASIN : B09NCZJ4Q6

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