BOOK REVIEW: Fire Road by Kim Phuc Phan Thi

Posted December 13, 2017 by Fizzy Pop in book review, Kim Phuc Phan Thi / 3 Comments

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

BOOK REVIEW: Fire Road by Kim Phuc Phan ThiFire Road by Kim Phuc Phan Thi
Published by Tyndale House Publishers on 2017
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Christian Life, History, Inspirational, Military, Personal Memoirs, Religion, Vietnam War
Pages: 336
Source: Tyndale House Publishers

Get out! Run! We must leave this place! They are going to destroy this whole place! Go, children, run first! Go now!

These were the final shouts nine year-old Kim Phuc heard before her world dissolved into flames--before napalm bombs fell from the sky, burning away her clothing and searing deep into her skin. It's a moment forever captured, an iconic image that has come to define the horror and violence of the Vietnam War. Kim was left for dead in a morgue; no one expected her to survive the attack. Napalm meant fire, and fire meant death.

Against all odds, Kim lived--but her journey toward healing was only beginning. When the napalm bombs dropped, everything Kim knew and relied on exploded along with them: her home, her country's freedom, her childhood innocence and happiness. The coming years would be marked by excruciating treatments for her burns and unrelenting physical pain throughout her body, which were constant reminders of that terrible day. Kim survived the pain of her body ablaze, but how could she possibly survive the pain of her devastated soul?

Fire Road is the true story of how she found the answer in a God who suffered Himself; a Savior who truly understood and cared about the depths of her pain. Fire Road is a story of horror and hope, a harrowing tale of a life changed in an instant--and the power and resilience that can only be found in the power of God's mercy and love.

I was born in August of 1975 (dating myself).  The Vietnam war had just ended but life wasn’t even remotely back to normal, for anyone involved.  I was the first baby, the greatly anticipated baby, and apparently Ma was a bit overprotective.  I was the only kid I knew growing up who had a small pox vaccination scar.  Ma was so worried about the idea of what ‘could’ happen with the influx of refugees that she wanted her precious child protected.  The way it was told to me was that the vaccine was special ordered and sent in from the CDC to the Greene County Health Department just for me.  My younger sister didn’t get such treatment, but she didn’t come along for another 17 months after I did.  Imagine, if that is what a parent in somewhat isolated Ozark Mountains of Missouri does when she fears for her child in the after effects of this war, what parents who lived it with their children went through.  Parents who listened for and watched bombs drop.  Parents who couldn’t protect their children from the effects that war has on a country, and community, and family and even the world.  Imagine watching your child ignited by a ‘bomb’ from the sky and believing that your child is now gone forever.

This book isn’t about Kim Phuc’s parents, it’s about her.  Her parents figure into her story obviously, but we don’t know really know how they felt or their inner turmoil that would have fueled their reactions.  We do know what she felt and what she went through.  Call me woefully ignorant but I wasn’t familiar with the picture that made Kim famous.  Taken and made famous before my time, about a war I’ve had little opportunity to study, this picture changed the life of this girl (now woman) in ways I can’t begin to imagine.  From growing up in the ‘free’ south of Vietnam to falling under the communism rule when the north won the war.  From waking up burned in a hospital morgue to spending the rest of her life dealing with the long term effects of napalm.  Through all of this she searched for peace.  She gave up her childhood dreams of marriage and family, telling herself that no one could love her scars.  She gave up her dreams of an education when the ‘handlers’ continuously took her away to sit for staged interviews with staged responses.  She gave up her dream of being saved by the faith of her family CaoDai (which I’d never heard of) and came up lacking.  Somewhere along the way she was introduced to Jesus.  With a lot of encouragement, patience and learning she gave her life to Christ one Christmas Eve.  The question begs, if she had never encountered the things that changed her life would she have found herself in need of Christ?  Would she have been open to needing to find peace.  Peace from physical hurts, emotional hurts, and lost dream hurts.

Kim Phuc has gone on from that picture, those interviews, and those feelings.  She did find love, in Cuba where she was sent to attend school.  She did find freedom to set her own course and schedule her own interviews when she and her husband defected to Canada on their return from a Moscow honeymoon.  She did find dreams when she carried two amazingly healthy, loving sons.  She did find peace when she reunited with her parents and not only brought them to the feet of Christ but also helped them to defect to Canada.  Kim went from resenting the girl in the picture to embracing who that girl allowed her to become. This book is so much more than a memoir of war and hurts.  It’s a memoir of finding peace in all circumstances.

Fire Road: The Napalm Girl's Journey Through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness, and Peace
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About Kim Phuc Phan Thi

Kim Phuc Phan Thi

On June 8, 1972, during the Vietnam War, a little girl made world news when she was photographed escaping her Vietnamese village, which had been bombed with napalm. Nine-year-old Kim Phuc was so badly burned that she was not expected to survive, but after fourteen months in a Saigon hospital and sixteen skin-graft surgeries, she returned to her village to begin rebuilding her life. During the years that followed, Kim struggled with physical pain as well as being used as a propaganda tool by the communist government. In 1986, she moved to Cuba to pursue her education. There, she met a young Vietnamese student, Toan Bui, who later became her husband. In 1992, she and Toan defected to Canada, where they have dedicated their lives to promoting peace. Today, Kim is the founder of the Kim Foundation International in Ontario, Canada, and a UNESCO Goodwill ambassador. She and her husband live in the Toronto area, along with their two children, Thomas and Stephen.

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