All Farmers Markets honor history.
It rises up from the roots of the produce, grown on fields tended by generations.
You can taste it in the Mexican street corn, the Amish hand pies and in Mr. Reynebeau’s giant chocolate chip cookies. You can smell it wafting from the Hmong egg roll stands, and hear it in the age-old chatter and the street musicians.
So it seemed entirely appropriate, though a little surprising, to see a book that celebrates history for sale at a stand that also featured crab rangoons and funnel cakes.
Naturally I bought it and enjoyed the opportunity to chat a little with its author, Chia Gounza Vang.
I’m so glad I did. I read her book, the Illiterate Daughter, quickly, mostly in one sitting, because I couldn’t put it down.
The book is a fictionalized story of her and her husband’s families escape from Laos to Thailand in the waning days of the Vietnam War.
I’ve heard and read accounts like this, families trapped by the encroaching Viet Cong and desperately trying to make their way across the Mekong River to the safety of Thailand.
Vang’s book tells this story through a 13-year old girl, whose thirst for an education initially frustrates her agrarian family.
Her father, wounded in the war and marked for death due to his efforts to aid the American army, leads the family on a journey that is both tragic and inspiring.
The author signed my book with an encouragement to “embrace history and be empowered and inspired.”
Her book is a great way to do that. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, The Dreamer’s Dream, which takes place in Appleton in the 1970s, when it comes out.
I encourage you to buy this book, preferably from a Farmers Market stand where you can chat with the author. It’s also available on Amazon, and at Walmart and Barnes and Noble, among other places.