Fire Road by Kim Phuc Phan Thi: A Book Review

I have seen the picture, as you likely have, too.  It’s iconic and shows the brutality of war as well as the cost to innocent civilians.   But what happened to that little girl in the photo, running naked down the street, being burned by napalm?

In Kim Phuc Phan Thi’s book, Fire Road: The Napalm Girl’s Journey through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness & Peace, the reader learns the full details of her story.

I did not know that in the moment the picture was snapped, she was naked because the napalm had burned off her clothes or that, while not visible in that picture, in other pictures that show her from the side and the back, you can see her skin actually peeling off.

Kim was just nine years old when this happened to her.  The same age as one of my daughters now.  She would undergo many, many surgeries before she was 18, and over 1/3 of her body bore the rough burns.  She was told she would never marry or have children.

Kim’s family was devoted to their religion, CaoDai, and Kim became the most devoted of her siblings.  In fact, when she was burned by the napalm, she was running from the CaoDai temple where her family had stayed the last three days, seeking refuge from the war.

But by her late teens and early twenties, Kim was disillusioned by CaoDai.  She found that no matter how fervent she was, she found no peace from her religion, and none of her prayers were answered.  She was suicidal.

In desperation, she researched the world religions and settled on Christianity because it was the only religion that seemed to make sense to her.  She again began praying in earnest, this time to God, and slowly, her depression lifted.

I was fascinated as I read through Kim’s story.  Not only did she suffer as a child and a teen, but she continued to suffer in a different way when her Communist “handlers” paraded her out for the media to talk about her experiences.  However, the translator did not translate what Kim said; instead, he stated propaganda and declared they were Kim’s words.  For years Kim was in the grip of Communism’s hold until she and her husband made a bold move to defect.

This is one of the best books I’ve read in 2017.  Not only did I love reading what happened to Kim in the aftermath, but I just loved her story.  How she went from a suicidal girl to one who travels the world giving talks on her experience is fascinating.  I drew strength from her story.  She is a true inspiration.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.

I received this book for free from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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