Children’s Book Review/AnalysisRead one of the following children's books: (Substitutes are not negotiable.)
Crew, Linda. Children of the River
bookI attached below,
Paperback editions of these books are available from local bookstores and in community libraries. REMEMBER WHEN WRITING TO PARAPHRASE IDEAS USING OWN WORDS. PLAGIARISM IS THE COPY OF OTHER’S WORDS. (ANY PLAGIARISM IS REFERRED TO THE COMMITTEE ON ACADEMIC DISHONESTY AND CAN HAVE EXTREME CONSEQUENCES). SO, YOU MUST PROVIDE INPUT ABOUT THE BOOK FROM YOUR OWN VIEWPOINT AND WORDS. BY USING THE GUIDELINE BELOW, THIS WILL HELP YOU WRITE IN YOUR OWN WORDS.Submit a two- to three-page reaction paper
Guiding ideas and focus questions:Your reflective analysis should be associated with a compare and contrast of your perspective on U.S. history as presented by you in your classes from elementary through college. Utilize notes and ideas from Rethinking, Bennett, etc. Thus, you analysis should contain quotes and other textual evidence from the reading as well as personal examples (connections) to illustrate your points. Here are some guiding questions: In what ways did the book illustrate some of the concepts we have been discussing in class? How was the child’s ethnic identity affected? What cultural conflicts existed between the characters? What types of racism were evident? Did this book give you a different point of view? (Multiple perspectives?) How did the historical perspective (from a minority viewpoint impact your thinking about that group today? Would you use this book (with older students)? Why or why not?
Be sure to include important terms such as: assimilation-acculturation, voluntary/involuntary minorities, ethnic identity, racism (individual and institutional), culture conflicts (values, beliefs other cultural patterns), stereotyping, white privilege, multiple perspectives, and high to low context cultures.
She bit her lip. �I like to go with you, but�in my country, we don't go out on a date at all.�
�Things are different here,� said Jonathan.
�Yes, but not for me.�
His smile had faded. He seemed bewildered. �So you really won't go out with me?�
�Jonathan, I shouldn't even have lunch with you. To go to die movie � I'm sorry. I just can't.�
He blinked, at a loss. �Well� I guess if that's the way you feel��
She thought about Cathy, about the other girls who gave him admiring glances. Perhaps no one had ever turned him down before. He looked so hurt.
But was she supposed to throw away the traditions of centuries to save the feelings of one American boy?
Of course not.
Still, imagine � to openly say to the world, Yes, I want to be with him and he wants to be with me. To venture into public, the two of them, alone together for all to see�
No, of course not.
But she couldn't pretend she hadn't felt it�a surprising little thrill of temptation.
ALSO AVAILABLE IN LAUREL-LEAF BOOKS:
SHARK BAIT,Graham Salisbury
PEELING THE ONION,Wendy Orr
YOUNG FU OF THE UPPER YANGTZE,
Elizabeth Foreman Lewis
BONE DANCE,Martha Brooks
RUMBLE FISH, S. Ł. Hinton
TAMING THE STAR RUNNER, S. Ł. Hinton
TEX, S. Ł. Hinton
THE MOONLIGHT MAN, Paula Fox
A SUMMER LIFE, Gary Soto
THE WAVE,Todd Strasser
For Sam-ou Koh Reang
And for all those who see
not only with their eyes
Children of the River is a work of fiction and the characters do not represent real individuals. It is, however, based on historical realities.
I would like to thank the following people for sharing their experiences and insights with me:
Dr. John Berry, Tom Cope, Siv Chhing Chang, Vuthy Koh, Prakap Kuy, Sovanna Kuy, Srey Mom Pich, Chanthu Sam, Khen Reang, Khansinaro Reang, Dominic Tagliavento, Simsundareth Tan, Dr. Earl Van Volkinburg, and Dr. Michael Wong.
April 17, 1975
For a brief time, it seemed the New Year had brought good fortune to the household of Tep Naro in the Cambodian village of Ream: a fat-cheeked new daughter born to his wife, Soka.
The birth itself had not been an easy one, however, and Naro and Soka were glad their young niece Sundara had come down from Phnom Penh to help.
On the day after the birth Sundara sat rocking the new baby in the wooden swing on the front porch. The afternoon air was soft and warm; a pleasant breeze wafted up from the gulf. Nuzzling the baby, she breathed in the sweet newborn smell. Such a nice plump little body. Such a thick thatch of black hair.
In the hammock, Sundara's six-year-old cousin, Ravy, lay nibbling leftover sticky rice cakes and entertaining his little brother Pon with a boat he'd made of knotted straw.
A sad love song played on the radio and Sundara kept time, lazily dangling her rubber thong from her toe, thinking of Chamroeun, the boy she'd left back in the city two weeks ago.
�I want to go fight the Communists,� he'd told her that last night in Phnom Penh, the night before her father had spirited her through the teeming, refugee-choked boulevards to the airport. Hearing these words as the shells from the Communist guns screamed at the city's edge had terrified her. But now it seemed only a bad dream. Here, safe in her relatives� fishing village, lulled by the rustling of the coconut palms, she could almost imagine this as simply another vacation. The war that had dominated their lives seemed so far away, so unreal �
When the baby fussed, Sundara jiggled her, clicking her tongue as she'd seen the other women do. This seemed to calm the little one. Sundara smiled. She was beginning to feel quite capable, much older than thirteen. �Don't worry,� she whispered to the baby, whom she had already grown to love, �I'll take care of you.�
Suddenly the radio music stopped for an announcement � something about a new government. Then a terse exchange, a brief commotion. Then, nothing. Sundara shifted the baby to one arm and turned the dial.
�That's odd,� she murmured to Ravy. �It's gone dead.�
A moment later two men hurried past the house. Then, a panicky family.
Sundara rose. �What's happening?� she called. �Where's everyone going?�
�Get out! Get away! The Communists! The Khmer Rouge! They've taken Phnom Penh and they're coming here!�
The Communists! Hot fear burned her chest. She whirled and ran into the main room.
�Grandmother! Younger Aunt! Wake up! The Khmer Rouge are coming! Everyone's running away!�
Soka moaned, more in pain than alarm. �What does Naro say?�
�Naro's not here! He's still at work.�
Soka shifted on her wooden bed. �I can't go anyway. Not now.�
Grandmother peered out the window. �Just wait for Naro, child. My son is the head of this family. I'm sure he'll tell us this is nothing.�
Clutching the baby, Sundara paced the house. The servant girl had fled down the back steps, leaving supper to burn. How much time did the rest of them have?
The trickle of people in the street became a stream.
Watching them, Grandmother sniffed. �I, for one, don't plan to leave my home just because the government might change hands once again. What has that to do with an old woman like me?�
Brave words, Sundara thought, but Grandmother had not seen the billboards all over Phnom Penh, the hideous picture that warned what the Khmer Rouge would do if they came to power: A woman stabbed with a dagger, her sarong torn away, her legs�
�Don't just stand there, you foolish women� Naro jumped off his roaring motorcycle, let it fall in the dusty yard. �Haven't you heard?� He hauled the two-wheeled cart from under the house. �Throw our things in this. Now!�
Sundara dashed into the house. Laying the baby on a mat, she tossed clothes into a satchel. �We're leaving, Younger Aunt.�
�But I can't� Soka protested. �It's impossible!�
Naro ran in. �Up, Soka! Hurry� He flung open the teakwood chest, rummaged for a packet at the bottom.
�Are you crazy, Husband? Have you forgotten? I just had a baby! I'm still bleeding. If you make me go now, I will die!�
Sweat beaded his forehead. �If we stay, we will all die. Everyone who worked for the United States must get out nowl� He turned on Sundara and Grandmother. �You two, grab that basket of dried fish, the small gas stove �� He scooped Soka from her bed and bore her down the steps.
The baby fussed frantically at the commotion. Sundara snatched up her checkered krama and lashed the red-faced bundle to her breast, then rushed through the house grabbing dishes, food, mats. Just one thing more. The parasol. Her chest clutched tight. Phnom Penh! Ob, God, what about her family, what about Cbamroeun� No. No time for that now �
�You're killing me� Soka was screaming down in the yard. �We haven't even had the childbirth ceremonies yet. We cannot leave without purifying the house!�
Grandmother tugged at Naro's sleeve. �She's right, my son. The spirits won't like it if��
�Shut up! Both of you! Now hurry!�
Pon burst out crying.
Sundara threw everything into the cart and plopped the toddler on a sack of rice. She seized a cart handle and Grandmother, in a daze, did the same. Together they shoved the heavy contraption after Naro, who staggered ahead toward the wharf under Soka's sobbing weight. Behind them, Ravy struggled to keep up, bravely lugging the pot of supper they'd yanked from the fire as an afterthought.
�Where are we going?� he kept calling.
No one answered.
People crowded on the pier with their squalling children and hastily gathered possessions, stumbling in panic up the gangplank to a large freighter. A few men rolled motorcycles on board; one family pushed a refrigerator. All was shouting and confusion. Where were they going and for how long? Who should be let on? Who must be left behind? Somehow Naro knew the right people: his family would be allowed to board.
Night was coming on fast. The wind whipped Sun-dara's hair about her face as she gripped the baby in her krama with one arm, balanced Pon on her opposite hip and, swept by the mass of people, began the long, sloping climb up the gangplank to the ship.
For hours, it seemed, she had been picking her way among the people crammed together on the hot metal deck, trying to shield the baby from the blazing sun with her bleached-out parasol. Three weeks they'd been on the sea, and Soka was ill. Sundara had been left to care for the little one alone.
She scanned the crowd. Surely there was one nursing mother among these hundreds of people, a woman who could help her. Ah! Over there, sitting by the motorcycle �
Sundara bowed awkwardly before the young mother and her child. �Excuse me, please. My aunt is very sick and her milk has dried up. Now her little one grows weak too.� She pulled back the blue-checkered krama. �See how strange and dried out her skin is? Look. Even her soft spot sinks in.�
The woman winced, then averted her eyes. She held her own baby a little closer.
Sundara licked the salt from her cracked lips. �I was wondering � could you � ?�
�I�m sorry,� the woman whispered, �I would, but � Oh, this is all so terrible. I'm not getting enough to drink myself. Soon I'm afraid I won't have milk for my own.�
Sundara nodded, swallowing hard. Everyone had the same story. Their own families had to come first. She covered the baby and moved on. Heaven protect her, the baby grew lighter by the moment, her life running out in diarrhea that stained Sundara's cotton sarong in reeking brown streaks. How limp she was, and so silent�.
Oh God, what to do?
She went down to the hold where they guarded the donated supplies and found it crowded with people pleading for extra shares. She pushed into the weary crush. Breathless with the heat, she finally squeezed through to one of the men in charge.
�Our baby is so sick. Can you give me something for her?�
�Everyone's sick,� he replied impatiently, showing bad teeth. His breath stank. �Everyone wants something extra. There's not enough extra for all seven hundred!�
Sundara shut her eyes, faint with disappointment and lack of air.
�For the love of heaven,� said a woman. �Can't you even give her an extra packet of milk?� Her voice softened. �Poor child. No grown-ups to help you?�
�They all have the seasickness,� Sundara whispered.
The man's mouth twisted. �Well, here then.� Grudgingly, he shoved a packet at her.
Tears squeezed from the corners of her eyes.
�Now what's the matter?� he demanded.
�Thank you. I'm grateful, but � I think that's partly what made her sick, because before I had to mix milk in water without boiling it first.� She took a deep breath, gathering courage. �I need medicine.�
�Medicine! Do you think this is a hospital? Do I look like a doctor? I wouldn't know what to give you if I had it.� He glanced around. �That Thai ship donated these. Sugar water or something.� He held up a glass bottle of clear liquid. �Although I don't know what they expect us to do with them since this is for putting in the veins and we don't have any needles.�
�I'll take it,� Sundara said quickly. It was liquid; it looked clean. She had to try something.
�All right. But one thing�we don't need any more diseases than we've got. If that baby dies, throw it overboard right away.�
What! Throw the baby� Horrible man. She snatched the bottle and struggled out through the press of people, holding the little bundle tighter than ever. This baby couldn't die. She wouldn't let her. She would do anything. She would find a way to feed her. She would pray to God, promise to shave off all her long hair in gratitude if only the child would live�.
Nothing had changed back at their tiny section of the deck. Ravy huddled dejectedly with Pon, whose eyes were taking on the same sunken look as his baby sister's. The three grown-ups sprawled against the sack of rice, oblivious to the beating sun. Sundara squinted upward, hand shading her eyes. The tarp the ship people tried to rig had been ripped away by the hot wind. No shade, and nothing she could do about it. Well, she could at least try to clean up their patch of deck. She pulled a sarong from their satchel and swabbed at the new vomit. Hurry. Mustn't let it bake on the hot metal. Oh, no! Now little Pon had diarrhea too.
�Help me, Ravy.� She propped Pon against the suitcase and handed Ravy the baby. She unpeeled the bottle's silver seal and yanked out the stopper, dividing the liquid between a cup and the baby bottle she'd begged from another family. She handed Ravy the cup for Pon, quickly looking away, unable to bear those big, questioning six-year-old eyes.
�Now, you must drink,� she coaxed, cradling the baby again. �Please, please drink.� But the tiny head fell back from the bottle. �Oh, Little One, can't you swallow? No, no, don't let it dribble away ��
September 7, 1979
The third-floor classroom window was open, allowing a wispy thistle seed to float in on a breath of late summer air. Sundara clenched her hands on her desk and watched the spinning puff drift by. When you saw one of these, you could make a wish. An American girl who worked beside her in the strawberry fields had told her that. Sundara closed her eyes. How I wish I bad not written that poem.
Every muscle in her body was tense. She never dreamed Mrs. Cathcart would read these first English papers aloud.
�In conclusion,� the teacher read from a student's paper, �let us choose our own lunch menus. A lot less food would end up in the garbage if we did.�
�Yay,� came one listless voice. This was the sixth paper on cafeteria food, and only one�the blond boy's�had been truly funny. The students were sinking ever lower in their hard wooden chairs, nothing much having caught their attention since one girl's daring essay on why kids were entitled to birth control counseling without their parents� permission. How Sundara's face had flamed at that! She could just hear her aunt Soka: �These American girls, going to bed with men before they're married�. Why, if they were mine, I'd throw them out so fast ��
�And now I'd like to share a very special piece of work by Sundara Sovann.� Mrs. Cathcart smiled at Sundara. �If she doesn't object.�
I do object! Sundara longed to cry. But of course she couldn't. Deny a teacher's request? Impossible. She glanced behind her. Thirty pairs of eyes bored into her, waiting. True, one girl had written about her cat dying, but the rest of these eyes belonged to a puzzling group of people who had chosen video games, school dress codes, and football team conduct rules as topics that concerned them most deeply. Sundara sighed. Even now, four years after leaving Cambodia, she could not seem to understand the Americans.
Lowering her eyes, focusing once more on her scratched, damp-palmed hands, she finally nodded.
�We are the lost, we are the lonely
So far from our beloved land
We are the children of the Mekong
Who will not see that mighty river again
The blood of our people
Has stained you The bones of our people
Lie in unmarked graves
But the love of the ancient Khmers
Will live in our hearts
We will not forget you
Even from this new place
On the far side
Of the earth.�
Silence. Endless silence. She did not look tip as the teacher slipped the offending paper into her view. Very good, Mrs. Cathcart had written in red pencil, but the praise was small compensation for this embarrassment. Why hadn't she written about something safe, like the others?
She couldn't wait to get away when the bell rang, away from all those staring eyes. Threading through the crowds, she hurried down the two flights of stairs to the girls� locker room to dress for PE, her last class of the day.
�Sundara, what's wrong?� It was Kelly, her chemistry lab partner, peering at her. Kelly's glasses made her eyes look huge.
�Not'ing,� Sundara said. She could never master the t-b sound.
�Come on. You're acting like somebody's after you.�
Sundara forced herself to smile calmly as she gathered her long black hair into her fist and snapped a clip around it. �Not'ing is wrong.� She and Kelly had been friendly since the seventh grade, when they'd met at the church that sponsored Sundara's family. Even so, Sundara had never spoken of her homesickness to Kelly. Not to anyone. When they'd first come to Oregon, she had been too busy learning to live in America, and the kind ones, like Kelly, had been too busy trying to teach her.
Perhaps because of her faltering English, no one had tried, at first, to coax out her story, no one except that boy with pimply red skin. �How many people did you see get killed?� he'd asked her, eyes glittering. She shuddered, glad he was at her old high school. She would have hated to have him hear her poem.
�So how's it going?� Kelly asked. �Finding your way around okay?�
Sundara nodded. She hadn't been happy when she learned that moving to a new house would mean enrolling at the other high school. She was just getting to know people at Kennedy. But it would be all right. Changing schools was nothing compared to changing countries.
Out on the field, she kicked the soccer ball with the others, but she couldn't concentrate. Now, because of her putting those words on paper, far too many people knew her thoughts. Which was worse, to walk around with everything held inside so that no one really knew you? Or to have these feelings exposed to the whole world? Her aunt and uncle would be most displeased if they knew of this. Hadn't they warned her against telling their troubles or sounding ungrateful for their new life here? Hadn't they insisted the first English words they learned must be �Thank you very much� and �Very happy to be here�?
Even after PE, she was still so distracted, she stood waiting for the bus by the curb a minute before remembering her aunt had sent her with the station wagon that morning so she could hurry home for tomato picking.
She turned into the subdivision where their small house sat in a row with the others, the young, twiglike trees not yet large enough to soften the raw newness of the neighborhood. / hope Soka won't notice Pm late, she thought. They had to keep to American time now. Three-thirty meant three-thirty exactly.
But when Soka flung open the door and ran out onto the driveway, she was clearly upset by something more important than Sundara's being five minutes late. �Niece� she cried in Khmer. �Quickly! Come see this letter. Grandmother and I can do nothing but weep all day� She hurried Sundara in, hardly giving her time to place her shoes on the mat by the door.
Sundara set her books on the kitchen counter and followed her aunt into the living room. Grandmother crouched on a straw mat, her close-cropped gray head bowed in despair, touching the paper in question as if trying to decipher the strange markings with her gnarled fingers alone.
Soka took the letter from her and thrust it at Sundara, who by now was trembling in sick anticipation, her mind whirling with the awful possibilities.
�Will you boys turn down that foolishness?� Soka called to her sons in the next room. �We cannot think.� The hysterical cheering of a TV game show snapped off. Silence.
Swallowing hard, Sundara unfolded the paper. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Thailand. News of her parents, her brother and sister? No, scanning the brief lines, she saw only the name of another aunt, Soka's sister Valinn, who, at the end of the last dry season, had scrambled down Khao-I-Dang mountain into a Thai border camp and collapsed in a malarial stupor.
Sundara let out a tentative breath. �Younger Aunt, why are you so upset? It's not the news we want, but there is still hope, isn't there? It says here they need more information before we can sponsor her. They want us to��
�But look. Look.� Soka jabbed a finger at the crackly onionskin paper. �I've taken this to Prom Kea to tell me what the English says. And you see? �Do not contact us again about this case.� Who can we turn to if not the United Nations? Prom Kea is telling his friends about this too. Everyone is very upset.�
�Do they expect us to simply forget our families? My own sister? Oiee!�
�Younger Aunt, do you see this word? Hesitate. It says, �Please do not hesitate to contact us again.� It means just the opposite of what you thought. It's all right to write them more letters. They want us to.�
Soka's round face went blank, then lit with a broad, embarrassed smile. �Oh� She put her palms to her cheeks. �Oh, I was so scared.� She dropped to a squat next to Grandmother. �It's a mistake,� she said into the old woman's ear. �The United Nations will still try to help us.� She allowed herself a moment to enjoy the relief, then jumped up. �That Prom Kea! He thinks he knows English so well! But then, I am too glad about this to be angry. Quick, Niece, change your clothes. There's some cold corn for you in the kitchen.� Then she called to the boys. �Ravy, Pon, come now! Grandmother, are you ready? We will pick many tomatoes tonight and send the money we earn to Valinn. Hurry, hurry, or the Lam family will pick the whole field before we get there.�
Perfect weather for picking Mr. Bonner's fall raspberries and cherry tomatoes: warm, sunny, and dry. Sundara crouched over her row, her quick fingers stripping the small orange tomatoes from the vines. It hadn't taken them long to harvest the small berry patch, and the tomatoes were now thunking into the plastic buckets with a steady intensity.
�Pon� Sundara called, brushing away the mosquito that tentatively tickled her lower lip. �I need an empty one.�
Her six-year-old cousin picked his way through the scratchy vines with another cardboard flat in which he'd placed a dozen Styrofoam pint boxes. Sundara spilled the bucket of tomatoes into the flat.
�Fore� On the other side of the blackberry and poison oak thickets that lined the fence, golfers strolled about the adjacent course, playing their odd game. To Sundara, the women golfers always seemed so brown and wrinkled. Americans certainly had funny ideas about what looked nice. She had even seen one blond girl pruning berry vines for Mr. Bonner in a bathing suit! Her skin was burned a deep brown, but she only seemed concerned with her nose, which was smeared with some kind of thick white paste. Sundara stood and retied the strings of her broad-brimmed straw hat. She did not want the sun to darken her skin, and avoided even the late afternoon rays.
She stooped back to work, slapping another mosquito on her cheek. �Here's a full one,� she called. Ten-year-old Ravy carried the loaded flat to Mr. Bonner's truck, where Grandmother sat dreaming and sorting out the occasional bad tomato.
Sundara's fingers flew. This was the last crop of the season and the best money-maker of all, an opportunity Soka did her best to guard. If all the refugees they knew who wanted work came to Mr. Bonner's small farm, no single family would earn much at all. Sundara had often heard Soka turn vague when the others tried to coax it out of her.
�Ah, the cherry tomatoes again,� they would say with more than a trace of resentment. �And where can you possibly be picking raspberries in September? Are you trying to make your first million this year?�
Soka would help these others if she could, Sundara knew, but their own family had to come first. As long as Valinn was still in Khao-I-Dang they had to send money to her. And what of the others in Kampuchea itself, the ones from whom they'd had no word? If they were alive, they might be needing money to bribe an escape. So Soka kept news of work to herself. And since Mr. Bonner couldn't communicate well with most of the Asians, she exerted a fair amount of control over how many families came to pick.
Tonight, only the Lam family worked alongside them. The Lams had come to America just last year after escaping Vietnam by boat. They were Chinese, and as Soka always pointed out with a grudging admiration, the Chinese could practically smell money to be made. You could not expect to keep work secret from them. Lam Ming, the father, picked with admirable speed, even though Sundara thought it must hurt his pride to do this work at all, having managed his own wholesale produce company in his homeland.
Faster, faster, Sundara urged herself, working steadily to the clank of the plastic bucket handles, the drumming of tomatoes on the bucket bottoms, the distant chug of Mr. Bonner's tractor as he disked under an early corn patch.
At six Sundara's Uncle Naro appeared, having parked his new Ford near the Bonners� house rather than dirty it on the dusty farm road. He had changed from office to work clothes, and carried a sack of Big Macs for the children.
Soka glanced up just long enough to point out the next unpicked row to her husband. Naro kicked off his thongs, smoothly curled into a crouch, and proceeded to strip tomatoes into his bucket like a well-oiled machine.
Sundara sat down next to Grandmother. She would have to eat quickly. It didn't seem right, taking too much time when Soka refused to stop even for a minute. But how Sundara's body longed for rest! She could have laid herself in the dirt and been asleep instantly.
�Are you hungry, Grandmother?�
The old woman sniffed. �Not for that pig slop.�
None of the grown-ups cared for American food, and they hated the idea of eating in the middle of such dirty work. They preferred to go hungry until they could bathe and eat something decent. But Sundara was ravenous, and as for Ravy, he loved burgers and fries. He ate them every chance he got, and laughed at Soka's warning: �Watch out! You'll start to smell like an American� Now he slurped down his Coke, dumped the ice, and trotted out to fill the paper cup with wayward golf balls, which he planned to sell.
Grandmother sighed. �I never thought I�d live to see my family work the dirt like peasants.�
�Uncle says you loved the garden in Ream.�
�A garden is one thing. To slave in someone else's field is another.�
�This is hard work, but surely it isn't slavery, Grandmother. We are earning money.�
�Rubbish! Keeping your knees busy for someone else. How I miss the warm Cambodian sun, my loom in the pleasant shade of the house. Why did they ever force me to come here?�
Sundara did not try to answer. No one could make Naro's mother understand that she was dreaming of a Kampuchea that no longer existed. If she'd stayed behind, she would have seen real slavery. If she'd lived.
�Any day now they'll be locking me in one of those terrible nursing homes.�
Sundara sighed. She had heard this so often, it no longer moved her as it had at first. �You know your son will never lock you away, Grandmother. Hasn't he promised?�
�Perhaps a promise doesn't mean the same thing in America. Nothing else does.�
Sundara stood, carefully gathering the paper wrappings and stuffing them in the sack. Thank the heavens the season was nearly over. They had begun in June with strawberries and picked every crop in the valley that needed swift and careful human hands for harvest. A whole ton of boysenberries, three tons of pole beans. Sometimes the crops overlapped. One day they had come home exhausted from blueberry picking to find the phone ringing. It was Mr. Bonner. Did they want to pick tomatoes that evening? Wordlessly, they'd piled back into the car.
Tonight they picked until dusk. Their practiced hands could find the little tomatoes with their eyes closed, but they had to quit when they could no longer tell the properly pale orange fruits from the green or overripe red.
Sundara was already at the truck when Soka picked her way, barefoot, out of the tangled rows, weighed down by a stack of three flats. She set them on the wooden pallet with a grunt and straightened up, bracing her back, rubbing her dirty sleeve across her forehead. Strands of black hair had escaped from the knot at the ba
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