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Book Review: The Orchid Bracelet by Freddie Remza

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A finalist in the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards contest, Freddie Remza combines her love for writing and travel with her creative imagination to build a platform for social awareness and the need for change through the medium of the novel The Orchid Bracelet.

American journalist, Allison Wagner, on assignment in Vietnam, becomes deeply involved in a conflict that forever changes her destiny. Allison learns more of her father’s bravery in the Vietnam War, of his injuries, capture and imprisonment by the Vietnamese, and of his death in the Cu Chi Forest in Vietnam.

While visiting a village in the nearby Mekong Delta with her guide, Allison met a 17-year-old cousin Lam. With the promise of work to provide funds for nurse’s training Lam is innocently drawn into the shady world of human trafficking, forced labor and sexual exploitation. Within days Lam drops out of sight of the family and is taken to Cambodia. Remza paints word pictures of these victims, trapped physically and emotionally with feelings of fear, hate, and loneliness building up. Moved by compassion, Allison joins Trung in his search for Lam.

Remza’s writing uses strong descriptive phrases, colorful characters, and an engaging storyline. Although I felt there were too many characters, the inclusion of a listing of the 35 primary and secondary characters introduced in the story in the order of their appearance was a big help. I was impressed with two additional features included: a discussion guide for book club readers, and an album of photographs depicting life in Vietnam and Cambodia.

The Orchid Bracelet by Freddie Remza left a lingering awareness etched in my memory with impressions of the callous acts of predators preying on children, teenagers, and women, victims of poverty without hope. The widespread, ongoing practice of modern-day enslavement in Southeast Asia, Africa, Thailand, England, France, and the United States is disturbing.

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