Falling Through the Earth by Danielle Trussoni
This was a memoir of a father and daughter’s often tumultuous relationship. The father, a Vietnam vet and former “tunnel rat” in the war, was a flawed, secretive, yet somehow sympathetic character. The daughter (the author) was locked in a struggle to find herself while unearthing her father’s past both at home and in the Vietnamese landscape.
Throughout the time she spent in Vietnam, a shadowy figure of a man stalked her, and I kept trying to figure out – along with the author – who he might be. A long-lost sibling fathered during the war? A resentful native still nursing a grudge against the Americans who overran his country? Sadly, I never found out because the author never found out. What he ultimately represented, for me, were the secrets that remained buried in both the father’s past and in the untold stories of the Vietnam War.
For the most part, I enjoyed this book, though I found myself questioning the author’s audacity and naiveté in visiting the seamier sections of Vietnam unescorted and, to my mind, unprepared. I was happy that she and her father came to a place of reconciliation at the end, and that her efforts to understand him bore fruit, if only to realize that when it came to the war experience, as her father put it, “No matter how hard you try, it doesn’t really end.”