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Heneghan, Jim.

Toronto. Overlea House, 1988. 189pp, paper. $3.95, ISBN 0-7172-2297-7. Distributed by Franklin Watts. CIP

Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by Joan Weller

Volume 17 Number 1
1989 January

The Vietnam War—what do our young people know about it? Probably what Hollywood has shown them. Recent films have depicted the horrors of the war: death, destruction of villages and land, the defoliation of trees and crops, the suffering of refugees and boat people.

The film as an art form has created images on a grand scale complete with resounding sound-tracks. The personal, intimate story of one sixteen-year-old’s suffering has an impact gained only through the bonding between the reader and the book's heroine in Promises to Come.

This book is for the young adult reader who has the maturity to accept the horrors that surround Kim's escape from her war-torn country. Murder she has committed. Rape she has suffered. Lying in order to be sponsored by a Canadian family, she is faced with haunting memories.

Her past and her secrets are all the more tragic in contrast to her secure, middle-class Vancouver life. Here she finds herself the unwanted adopted sister of thirteen-year-old Becky. The well-meaning WASP family, friends and life-style seem empty and meaningless.

Told on two levels, the book's parallel plot aptly shows the conflict within. Kim's story as told to her psychiatrist is a disturbing look at the past. Becky's side of the story, fraught with jealousy and bewilderment over her shy, silent sister, only places Kim's story in sharper focus. The book's climax brings the two worlds together and the two main characters closer to a personal solution to their past and their future.

The book's bibliotherapeutic value for our many new Canadians and for Canadians needing a greater understanding of their plight is commendable. This book is recommended for those who can accept the horrors of life and the promises of new life.

Joan Weller, Ottawa Public Library, Ottawa, Ont.
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