Prodigal Child

Author: Shoba Mano

Publisher: Treble Heart Books

Release Date: May 2005

Blue Ribbon Rating: 4


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Cao Kim Lye has led a privileged life. She's had the best of everything and would never stoop to speak to an employee on friendly terms. With her parents both deceased and all her father's assets frozen, Kim finds herself alone except for the chauffeur, Bryan, who despite her treatment of him, refuses to abandon her to the streets of Vietnam.

Bryan Nguyen is an Amerasian, born to an American father and an Asia mother. He works what jobs he can find in order to save money for when he migrates to America with his five-year-old daughter, Danielle. Bryan hopes to find a better life, one where they will be accepted in the American society. Bryan had promised the Judge Cao that he'd look after his daughter, Kim. He never expected the job to extend after the Judge's death, but he can't abandon the young woman either.

Bryan drove the two-day trip to Hanoi to inform Kim of her parents' demise. In a supposed drug raid gone wrong at their home, both of Kim's parents were shot and killed. Bryan's arrival at the boarding school that Kim has recently begun attending is the only notification Kim receives about her parents' deaths, and even his appearance was because he was not in the home at the time of the raid. Kim refuses to believe Bryan, he is only a servant after all and they tend to gossip. After offering to allow him to stay a day, Bryan leaves her with a polite refusal of the offer.

Kim's arrived at her family bungalow full of disbelief. It was dark and there were two military jeeps and a BMW parked outside, finding her Uncle Giao inside along with several other men, she demanded to know where her father is. Uncle Giao recounts that in a drug raid on the house, her father drew a gun on an enforcement officer and the officer shot him, supposedly the officer panicked and since her mother was standing beside her father, the officer shot her as well. Kim believes there's something corrupt going on but can't prove it and since her uncle is also known as General Giao, Kim's afraid he's somehow involved in whatever went on with her parents' deaths. After the funeral, and a battle of wills with Uncle Giao, Kim attempts to escape the gathering, only to be caught up in the journalists who swooped down like vultures in order to get a story. Kim stated that she did not believe that her father was involved in drug smuggling and that there's more to the drug story than the authorities are saying. However, free speech is not appreciated and Kim finds herself in a police lockup. Scared and alone, she wonders if anybody even cares what happens to her, unaware of Bryan's attempts at helping to get her released.

PRODIGAL CHILD is an amazing look into the workings of another culture. Both the beauty and ugliness of Vietnam can be seen in this story, as well as the strength of the people that live in such a controlled society. Watching Kim change from the spoilt, wealthy daughter of a judge to a caring person willing to do menial chores - such as feeding Bryan's daughter as well as caring for her, will endear this young woman to you. Bryan uses his strong Christian beliefs to help Kim endure the tragedy of the loss of her parents. There are so many aspects to this story, and all dealt with by the power of prayer and the Bible. Truly a beautiful story with a wonderful ending that had me smiling at the irony between the characters lives.

By Romance Junkies Reviewer: Chrissy Dionne

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