Rating:

Reviewed by Melanie Kline

Dragon House is a wonderful novel about Vietnamese street children and the Americans who travel there to try to build a school, and to save these children from their perils on the streets.

As her father lies dying, Iris promises to travel to Vietnam to finish the project her father started. Tormented by occurrences from his time in the Vietnam War, he started building a school for the street children – to give them a place to live and an education. Just before Iris is due to leave, an old neighbor stops by and begs Iris to take her son.

Noah was disfigured in the Iraq War and has lost himself and his will to live. Iris and Noah arrive in Vietnam and meet Qui and Tam. Qui is old and struggles desperately to sell enough books to the tourists to buy the medication necessary to ease the pain of her granddaughter’s disease. They also meet Mai and Minh – young children who sell fans and play Connect Four to earn enough money to pay Loc (so that he will not harm them) and still have enough left to eat. Iris and Noah befriend these children whose biggest dreams are full bellies, soft beds, and being able to attend school.

Throughout Dragon House, John Shors manages to portray the beauty and customs of Vietnam, despite the story taking place in the worst slums and unbearable conditions. Iris and Noah travel to Vietnam to “save” the children, yet as they learn more about them you start to question – who is really saving whom?

Dragon House is a tender, extremely moving novel that you won’t soon forget.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by John Shors. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.