The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

April 6, 2017

Kao Kalia Yang writes about her transition to America as a young Hmong girl in her book The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir. In the book, she and the rest of her family struggle to overcome many obstacles in their path. The family starts in their home country of Laos. During the Vietnam war, a large group of Hmong men fought alongside the United States, against the Vietnamese who were closely associated with the communist group called the Pathet Lao. After the war ended and the Americans had left, the Pathet Lao still went after Hmong families, by hunting them down and killing them. The Hmong had to avoid Pathet Lao soldiers by running barefoot through the jungles, while also being the victims of bombings, and suffering through hunger and infection. These obstacles were not impossible to overcome for Kao Kalia and her family, but instead they were there to prove strength. After countless nights of running, the family eventually made their way to the Ban Vinai refugee camp. After a few years at Ban Vinai, they were transferred to the Phanat Nikhom transition camp in Thailand, where they learned about their new lives in America. After their time at that camp, they were then transferred to the state of Minnesota.

This story provides an in depth view of the Hmong lifestyle and culture. Kao Kalia Yang does an excellent job of describing the jungles of Laos and the camps that her family were once a part of. She describes how her morals and beliefs slowly faded, but were never lost. There are many things to learn in this story about the Hmong people and the obstacles they had to overcome. It has the ability to make a reader think and compare their own values to the ones of a Hmong family.

As a Filipino-American, I am interested in learning about more Asian cultures, so I loved this book. It’s the story about a young refugee, her path to being transferred to America with her family, and how they have to conform to the American society. Kao Kalia Yang had the true experience as a Hmong girl who went through unimaginable struggles to the American eyes.This story is very emotional and has vivid details that really make the reader picture the multiple environments and different settings in which the story takes place. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Asian-American culture, or anyone who wants to learn more about the Hmong people. Sometimes people forget about the past, but the generations of  Hmong to come will never forget what their families left behind to get to where they are now. 

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