November 11, 2020 8:36 AM EST

It’s 1960s Laos and three orphaned teenagers spend their days helping a doctor deliver supplies to the wounded amid a civil war as bombs tear through the earth and into the sky. They risk their lives navigating the dangerous landscape and spend their nights in a makeshift hospital, dreaming of being anywhere else. What would make for an affecting coming-of-age tale becomes a broader narrative on trauma and its impact over time as author Paul Yoon propels the action forward. He follows the young characters years later, showcasing how their war-torn childhoods shaped their adult lives. In doing so, Yoon takes a difficult but powerful look at the lingering effects of violence and grief on those who did whatever it took to survive.

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