only the heart

only the heart

Length: 431 words (1.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

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And only the prisoner knows
The dream of freedom on his tongue,
Sweet foretaste of the summer wind,
That blows
Across the waving green of the young rice,

Across the unchained current of the distant dream,
Between the singing strands of taut-stretched barrier-wire,
To speak the future freely
In guarded whispers
Only the prisoner knows these things

Only the Heart is a collection of memories, thoughts and feelings both in the past and present, this novel portrays the hardships and struggles that a Vietnamese family endures through the years of approaching communism. Their desperate flea from the only home they have ever known and the loved ones that they may never see again, all in search of a place where freedom and hope are as abundant as the air that you breathe. The life that teens our age go through for freedom, opinions, safety, choices, a future and a new beginning. These are the things we take for granted.

This sad but inspiring story written by Brian Caswell and David Phu An Chiem captures every terrifying moment of war, from the time families are torn apart to the refugee camps. Set in Southern Vietnam in the 1970s during the war between Vietnam and America, this book is the truth that was once felt by thousands of Vietnamese families.

Imagine one day you wake up and the currency changes, any money you have will turn into only 200 Dong. No money from the old currency is to be accepted. Your parents start packing the valuables that you own. They tell you to quickly get change. The whole house is a mess; the adults are running around like crazy with half open bags. And the next thing you know, you are pushed onto a wooden boat escaping from the war, from Vietnam, from the only home you have ever known.

The purpose of this story was to show how meaningless war is and the things it does to people and their families.


Some of the effective aspects of this book include the format in which it was written.

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This book was written in the form of a diary or the thoughts of the characters. This gave a better understanding of what the characters felt because when you read it you are that person. It was also confusing as the dates for the diary entrees were all mixed up.

Only the Heart is a story that truly shows how lucky we are. I recommend this book to everyone because it is a touching novel that showed me what war can do to someone’s life.
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