"Dragon House" by John Shors Review

Copied from Goodreads.com:

From John Shors, author of the critically acclaimed novels Beside a Burning Sea and Beneath a Marble Sky, comes an unforgettable story of redemption…

Set in modern-day Vietnam, Dragon House tells the tale of Iris and Noah—two Americans who, as a way of healing their own painful pasts, open a center to house and educate Vietnamese street children.

Iris and Noah find themselves reborn in an exotic land filled with corruption and chaos, sacrifice and beauty. Inspired by the street children she meets, Iris walks in the footsteps of her father, a man whom Vietnam both shattered and saved. Meanwhile, Noah slowly rediscovers himself through the eyes of an unexpected companion.

Resounding with powerful themes of suffering, sacrifice, friendship, and love, Dragon House brings together East and West, war and peace; and celebrates the resilience of the human spirit.

My review:

How do I write a review about a book that tugged, actually, YANKED at my heart strings as much as this book did and give it the credit that is due? I am not sure but I will do my best.

The children of the streets of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon, Vietnam) are the heart and soul of "Dragon House". Tam, a child who is dying from Leukiemia, and her grandmother Qui beg on the streets just so Tam can have medicine to ease her pain. Mai and Minh held under the "protection" of Loc, an Opium addicted, cruel man.. or I would rather refer to him as a pimp, he may not sell the children's bodies for sex but he pimps them to sell their goods. Minh doesn't speak since Loc beat him for saying the wrong thing and Minh only has one hand. He plays foreigners in games of Connect 4 for money. Mai who is his voice sells fans but mostly helps Minh obtain players.

The key adult players are Iris, whose father an American veteran of the Vietnam war who wasn't around to raise her as he was battling the internal scars from the Vietnam war. When her father died, he left her the center he was building in Vietnam for street children. Noah, a childhood friend of hers who lost the lower portion of his leg in Iraq and who is battling his own scars, joins her at his mother's begging. Thien, Iris' father's assistant, a beautiful Vietnamese woman inside and out, finds beauty in each and everything she can. Then there's Sahn. He is also a survivor of the Vietnam war and has a disdain towards Americans after losing his entire family in the war but as a Police office with failing sight, he was to save the future of Vietnam.

Every single one of these people save each other in more ways then one. They find their futures, their souls, their lives, hope, family and love.

John Shors paints a vivid picture of survival, anger, cruelty, beauty and redemption throughout this entire book. He brings to life the trauma that the children who have to live and survive on the streets of Vietnam. Many of which never get another life off of the streets. Post war Vietnam is not a pretty place, don't ever expect it to be. There are horrific injuries sustained to victims of Agent Orange, street girls become prostitutes, opium addiction, and the same. There are many organizations out there trying to do what they can for the Vietnamese children, one of which is Blue Dragon Children's Children Foundation. (Here's the website: http://www.bdcf.org/)
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of "Dragon House" goes to Blue Dragon Children's Foundation. In Vietnam, a tiny bit goes a long ways. You may also purchase or go directly to the site to donate : http://www.bdcf.org/ You may also email the author, [email protected] for more information or if you want to donate by check.

Wow, ok, honestly, I really didn't mean to step on a soap box or to even promote any one organization, but I have read two books in a row (Saffron Dreams is another) in which proceeds of the book's sales goes to help feed the hungry. $1 goes so far. So so far. I try to donate when I can. When I finished the book, the first thing I did after emailing Mr. Shors that I loved this book, was google for Volunteer Opportunities throughout various other countries. Hopefully, as my daughter gets older and her health is much better, she and I can do something overseas. Maybe teach English, clean up water supplies, build or do something! I definitely will be reading more of John Shors' works, that's for SURE!


  1. Standing ovation Jamie! And move over cause I am coming up on the soap box with you. This is an excellent read and your review is right on.

    I read this book a few months ago and it pulled at me too. I work with street kids in Honduras and reading this book reminded me that these conditions are all over the world.

  2. *blushes* Thanks Sheila! Let's both stand on our soapboxes and shove these books in people's hands.. if it can open up another set of eyes.. AWESOME!

    Sheila, that is so awesome you work with the street kids in Honduras. I can imagine how this book felt to you. Kudos to you!

    One of my best friends' family came to the US from Cambodia as refugees fleeing the Khmer Rouge. Scary, sad stuff what the conditions are like, all over the world!


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