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A Blessing over Ashes : The Remarkable Odyssey of My Unlikely Brother

Fifield, Adam

102 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0380976803 / ISBN 13: 9780380976805
Published by William Morrow
Condition: Fine Hardcover
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Signed by Author 0380976803 First edition stated. Hardcover near fine/near fine DJ SGNT|Signed / inscribed by Author, Minor shelf-wear. Free of any markings and no writing. For Additional Information or pictures, Please Inquire. Bookseller Inventory # SKU02210

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Bibliographic Details

Title: A Blessing over Ashes : The Remarkable ...

Publisher: William Morrow

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Edition: First Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

From a writer of insight, wit, and compassion
comes the remarkable story of a boy from the
killing fields of Cambodia who irrevocably
changed the life of an American family.
A Blessing Over Ashes

In clear vivid prose, Adam Fifield recaptures the snowy night when he, at the age of eleven, along with his mother, father, and younger brother, waited to welcome fifteen-year-old Soeuth into the family. The boy shuffled in, short and scrawny, a baseball cap shading his downcast eyes. He spoke not a word, yet a silent terror hovered around him.

The author describes the events of the months that followed: Soeuth's wariness and detachment; his fear of being seized in the night by his parents' ghosts; Adam's discovery of his new brother's amazing physical skills, like catching fish with his bare hands; and Soeuth's eventual and painful emergence from years of darkness. As Soeuth gradually adjusts to rural middle-class America, a world fantastically foreign from the horrors of his homeland, a bond is formed with his new brothers that would permanently affect them all.

In his senior year of high school, Soeuth leaves home, lured by an anesthetic world of drugs and alcohol. Over the next few years, the brothers drift apart, distracted by college, jobs, girlfriends. Then Soeuth finds out that the members of his Cambodian family -- whom, for fourteen years, he has presumed to be dead-are alive. The discovery is the beginning of a new journey -- one that reunites Soeuth with his long-lost brothers, sisters, and parents...and with his American brother Adam.

Review:

A cross-cultural meeting between Middle America and Cambodia, A Blessing Over Ashes is an unusual story that combines classic coming-of-age events with the sad history of a young refugee from the devastated Cambodia of the last decades. Soeuth--the refugee--came to live with the Fifield family at the age of 14. Adam, the family's eldest son, narrates the story in conversational slang; reading this book is like listening to an old friend tell his surprising life story. Beginning chapters alternate between Adam and Soeuth's childhood, and the differences are striking, often disturbing: afternoon shopping trips contrasted with work camps, cultural events with exchange students compared with starvation and severe beatings. As they attend school together (Soeuth tutoring Adam in math) and fish (Soeuth successfully with his bare hands, Adam unsuccessfully with rod and reel), they become somewhat closer, but throughout the book there is a sense of distance from Soeuth, a feeling that he is not communicating deeply with anyone. Both boys move through their lives--Adam as a reporter, Soeuth as a mechanic--experiencing relationship troubles, cross-country moves, career frustrations, a marriage, and other fairly standard events. After years believing his Cambodian family dead, Soeuth discovers many relatives are still alive and struggling, and he is able to establish contact with them, which sadly seems to bring more responsibility and guilt than satisfaction. Ending the book on a humorous note, a conversation about a fortune teller and his prediction for Soeuth's life is a hopeful glimpse into what the future may bring now that his two worlds have been brought together. --Jill Lightner

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