The Latehomecomer : A Hmong Family Memoir

November 29, 2010

Kao Kalia Yang – author of The Latehomecomer and daughter in the featured family.

Wow. First off, one of the best books that I have read in a long time that kept my attention and me turning the pages. Yang did a wonderful job of putting the words into such detail that I could see the image in my mind.

Welcome. Welcome to America. Welcome to freedom. Welcome to the land that you are able to make something of yourself.

Something that I have always taken for granite is that I have freedom. Freedom to go to a private school. Freedom to worship God. Freedom to go to high school. Freedom to play sports. Freedom to dream. Freedom.

This Hmong family fled their own country, a place of no-welcome; to come to America were they longed for better opportunities and freedom from being persecuted. They were being cashed through the jungle, fathers and sons were murdered before their families, and women and children were left to die in the jungle, alone.  Fleeing families hid in mountain side caves, sons stayed with their mother and sisters to protect them, and babies cried.

Such vivid images were painted in my mind that I could hear her voice crying out for help in the stillness of nothing. Nothing to filter her cry and nothing to answer back to save her or give her hope for a better tomorrow. Their family pushed forward in their journey. They risked their lives more than once, and there were multiply times where they were sick enough they could have died. But they didn’t. Her grandmother believed in the spirits of their ancestors and their grace to help them live for another day.

A story of hope. A story of welcome. A story of grace. A story of love. A story of pain.  The Latehomecomer. At first I didn’t understand the title, but after reading it I think I have decoded it.

Broken down and according to the always reliable internet : www.dictionary.com gives the following definitions…

late : occurring, coming, or being after the usual or proper time
home : any place of residence or refuge
comer : a person or thing that is progressing well or is very promising

If I would put all these together, you would get a definition of ‘latehomecomer’ to something that could possibly be this :

latehomecomer: a person or thing seeking a place of residence or refuge after the usual time

Makes since right? I thought it did. What else would these people be doing besides seeking a place of residence after being persecuted for years in their home country in anywhere but America, the land of the free.

So this past Thanksgiving weekend, I gave thanks for my family, the home we were able to gather in, the bed I was able to sleep in, the roof that protected us from the cold. Everything.

Thanksgiving : a time to give thanks for the things that are in our lives that give us hope for tomorrow, love for each other, and another day to look forward to when we wake again.

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