The past few days we have been visiting with John Shors and exploring his books, mission with Blue Dragon Children's Foundation and basically getting to know him. Today, I want to talk about my experience with reading Dragon House. I won't repeat the synopsis of this book because you can find it here.
The first thing that captured my attention with Dragon House was that it is not scene, character nor plot-driven, all three play an equal role in this book. As you read, you can hear the scooters as they pass, smell the fish at the market and see the bright colors in every direction. Within seconds, you are transported into the the midst of modern-day Vietnam. You not only hear the lilting voice of Thien as she goes about her work, you feel her contentment. The emotional pain Noah suffers tears at your soul and your world suddenly grows dim and dark as you travel with Sahn on his beat. Feeling Qui's helplessness as she watches her beloved Tam grow weaker drains your energy and you want to run as Mai sees Loc walking toward her. This is not a book you can sit and read cover to cover, for the emotion is so strong you need to stop and regain your composure.
The amount of research that has gone into Dragon House is greater than anything else I have ever read. I have read autobiographies that didn't seem as real and did not give me the feeling that I was living the story. John Shor has a talent that does not come from a book, but one that can only be said to be part of his very essence. He brings his setting into your living room and his characters into your mind.
I could not decide who was the main character in Dragon House. Every character was so real and played their part so well, and all were equally important in making the book come alive. If I had to give a name to the central character, it would be Love. Each character fights his or her own demon, whether in the form of another person, a situation or an internal one. In the end, it is mere love, in all its many forms that allows the individuals to move beyond those demons and see the beauty in life. Each learns that sometimes the very beauty and peace they seek is there inside them the whole time. John Shors wrote a book about the street children in Vietnam--he wrote a blueprint to love for the world.
There is only one other time I have done this. I can't give Dragon House a rating on the Rainbow Scale of Excellence--it surpasses the highest rating of a perfect rainbow many times over.