Beggars or Angels by Rosemary Tran Lauer and Scott Beller is the true story of Rosemary’s escape from Vietnam, her struggles to establish herself in the United States, and her triumph over poverty, health scares, and language barriers. She eventually becomes a successful entrepreneur in the beauty industry and creates a nonprofit organization to assistance to low income children in the form of quality preschools.
The first part of Beggars or Angels was the part that worked the best for me. Rosemary does an admirable job of explaining her love for Vietnam and the nuances of her culture. I really felt as though I was learning as much about her country as I did about her. Her harrowing escape from Vietnam, her efforts to be a good wife, and to be a good mother to her children were touching. I found this part of the book to be the best written.
As she recounts her coming to America, I found myself having great compassion for her struggles as a single mother. I cannot imagine how hard it had to be to raise her children with limited language skills and assistance. To her credit, Rosemary has an indomitable spirit, and despite her challenges, she was able to become a business owner and even a philanthropist.
Unfortunately, the last third of the book read like one of those timeshare conferences. (You know the ones—you get a free trip if you sit and listen to a sales pitch.) Not that Rosemary was trying to sell anything, but this part of the book came across as heavy-handed rather than touching. Some of the “voice” of the writing which I had found tolerable before, here became frustrating. It seemed throughout the novel that Rosemary tried to make the best out of bad situations, but the way these attitudes were written was trite and Pollyanna-ish. “Yes, this is bad. But juts a bit of a positive attitude and things will be OK.” A little bit of that went a long way. In addition, the end of the book seemed to focus on events, rather than on Rosemary’s thoughts and feelings, which were the best part of the book.
Beggars or Angels did educate me about Vietnam and I commend Rosemary for her success. It was hard earned and well deserved. Those who enjoy stories about overcoming challenges might enjoy this book.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Regina