Sitting on the shore of Fiddler's Lake in the sweltering heat with the blue dragon flies flitting about seemed like an appropriate place to read Kari's book. As my family fished on the opposite side, I sat reading about the forests of Cambodia, a world away from my little reality. I could almost imagine myself sitting in those forests, instead of these, while I read about one mother's journey to find another, and her life changing experiences. I read about the life of a Cambodian man, Sovann, who literally struggled for everything that he had, dreaming of his chance at the American dream. Sovann is still dreaming, hoping that one day he will get the opportunity to come to the US and start a new life. And I read about a little girl who lived an unthinkable childhood, and finally got her chance.
Little Maly lived a reality that as a middle class American I can't even begin to comprehend. She lived through what can only be compared to the holocaust, and somehow made it out to prosper in Wyoming of all places. Maly has bones that float. Just as little Grady Grossman does. Born in Cambodia, his birth mother was forced to give him up because she could not feed him. He overcame the odds and now thrives, with loving parents, and a little sister. He dreams of being an astronaut, or an engineer, and who at 7 years old now thinks about nuclear power, and what to do with nuclear waste.
His parents love him so much that they set out to find out all they could about his birth mother. Knowing that one day he may want to know where he came from, and also knowing that in Cambodia records of this type just don't exist, Kari decided she had to find out what she could, for by the time Grady is old enough to wonder, there would be no hope of finding the answers.
Her journey changed her life, and has made Cambodia a part of her, and not just because that is where her son was born. She and her husband George founded the Grady Grossman School, to help Cambodian girls have hope of more in life than child prostitution. Perhaps boys attending their school will be able to dream of one day working out that nuclear waste problem, just as Grady does.
Along the way she had to find peace in finding her ultimate happiness in another mother's sorrow. As she weaves her story with Maly's and Sovann's, she lets us into the heart of an adoptive parent, and gives us a peek into the lives of the Cambodian people.
Bubblehead and the kids came back from their fishing expedition, and made a big pot of chicken, potatoes and onions over the campfire, along with cold drinks and (of course!) roasted marshmallows. As I watched Bubblehead stir the pot of food, which I knew was more than our little family would eat, I couldn't help but think of Maly and her family, who for so many years subsisted on water with a little rice cooked into it, or whatever bugs they could catch. As an American it is so easy to take for granted what I have. I was lucky enough to be born where I was, when I was. So many people around the world live such a different life. As my kids complain about having to pick up all their books before bed, there are almost 500 Cambodian students at the Grady Grossman School who know no better thrill than to be able to sit with a book - who handle each book as if it were a treasure. It certainly puts my worries and "struggles" in perspective.
Bones That Float is a must read for any adoptive parent, and for any parent for that matter. Click on the link to buy your autographed copy. Your purchase will help the Grady Grossman School give hope to the children of Cambodia through education.