Bound To Stay Bound

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School Library Journal - 03/01/2011 Gr 6–8—Vague memories haunt Tracy the summer of 1980, at the end of sixth grade. Her home for five years has been with her adoptive American parents in a California coastal town, but recurrent flashbacks of her early life in war-torn Vietnam make her feel like part of herself is missing. Her father, Bob, was a GI in the Vietnam War, but came back "different" and will not speak about his tour of duty. As Tracy and her friend Stargazer search his garage for tools for a building project, they discover an ammunition box containing a soldier's dogtag. Seeing the children tussling over it, Stargazer's staunchly antiwar father calls Bob a "baby killer," and Stargazer erroneously informs Tracy that her biological mother was a prostitute. Yearning to piece together the truth, Tracy questions Bob, and he finally breaks the silence and secrecy to relate a devastating war experience that killed Tracy's biological father, owner of the dogtag. The use of flashbacks deepens understanding of Tracy's situation as a con-lai child who eventually gains the confidence to use her real name, Tuyet. Partridge also succeeds in incorporating solid historical research into a moving story, using the dogtag, symbol of a most unpopular war, as an instrument of catharsis, bringing truth to light and allowing healing and human connection for Tuyet and her adoptive father.—Susan W. Hunter, Riverside Middle School, Springfield, VT - Copyright 2011 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.

Booklist - 03/01/2011 Ghosts of the Vietnam War haunt Tracy, who as a young child refugee was adopted by a family in California. She remembers early trauma and knows her birth parents were Vietnamese (mother) and American (father), but she searches to find emotional security in her new land, where she still feels like an outsider. Why is her adoptive dad, a Vietnam War vet, often so tense and closed off? When she and pal Stargazer find a Pandora’s box in the guise of an old ammo box in the toolshed, the dog tag and photo inside set off an explosion of revelations. Dad resists Tracy’s questions angrily and finally, after facing what is obviously post-traumatic stress disorder, helps everyone come together with the truth in a way that does not seem forced. Creative and winsome, supporting character Stargazer is a story in himself, and his and Tracy’s escapades help to build this poignant coming-of-age tale into a story that resonates with pain and a hard-fought resolution. - Copyright 2011 Booklist.

Bulletin for the Center... - 05/01/2011 It’s the summer of 1980, and Tracy, who has just finished seventh grade, is initially expecting a regular vacation where she goofs around with her best friend, Stargazer. One small moment, however, brings Tracy sharp and painful memories of her life in Vietnam before she left to be adopted in America five years ago, and she begins to question her family’s silence about her past. It’s not just her past that’s a mystery, though; her adoptive father is a Vietnam vet who’s clearly still troubled by his experience there, and because he shuts Tracy down whenever she asks questions, she decides to investigate his Vietnam experience as well—and finds a startling connection to hers. Tracy’s backstory is a dramatic one, and her residual anxiety is understandable; the flashbacks to her life in Vietnam give vivid glimpses of a war-gripped country where she, as a half-American child, put her family at risk just by existing. That story’s sufficiently interesting that it’s frustrating when the book focuses so much on her father’s experience instead and often seems more concerned with his adjustment than hers. Additionally, the secret about her father’s (and her) past requires several ostensibly sympathetic people to have behaved unsympathetically and improbably and undercuts the realism with soap-operatic leaps of logic. The subject is still a poignant one, though, and those who wanted more after Burg’s All the Broken Pieces (BCCB 5/09) may wish to pursue the topic here. An appendix offers a Q&A about the Vietnam War. DS - Copyright 2011 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.

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