You can find this short little exposition on page #1. It sticks to the theme while quickly slipping in Mai's school life and interests. It is a great way to learn about the character without a formal introduction.
Pg. 1 and 3
"My parents should be thanking Buddha for a daughter like me: a no-lip gloss, no-short shorts twelve year old rocking a 4.0 GPA and a SAT-ish vocab who is team leader in track, science, and chess."
I have been waiting for this summer my whole life. My best friend, Montana, and I just got our hair highlighted and new bathing suits. I should be at Laguna Beach right now.
He left a letter. But it is not one I can carry.
In the climax, the guard who know what happened to Ong (Mai's grandfather), finally came to explain what had happened in The War.
I went back in the tunnel, but he was sitting by the river. Then the bombs rained down.
Give it to me now! And if not, goodbye!
So you just left him there!! *SLAP*
OMG! Did she just slap him?
I know we are asking a lot of you, but please be there for Bá.
Here, Mai is at the airport with her dad. She wants to stay in Laguna Beach with her friend. But she is being forced to go to Vietnam to see her Grandmother, Bá.
Well actually, this trip is about you. You get a chance to explore your heritage.
I will but as soon as she accepts what has happened I'm coming home.
Los Angeles Airport
This is one of my favorite quotes because it does explain the unfairness of life so perfectly.They are also in a place where they don't have much, but they are still grateful what they do have.
"I've never been able to answer that: why does one human being have too much and another human cling to life in desperation?"
"I looked out of my airplane and saw a boy not much older than I was dangling from a helicopter. I watched him hang, then drop to the sky. I always felt guilty-- why him and not me?"
Continuing the scene.
What are you talking about?
A Quote from the same scene
Now when I read this quote it really caught my attention. Because no one could have said it better. No matter how much you do or don't have, there are still ups and downs no matter what.
"You get philosophical like this when you don't eat enough."
*Laugh* "That life is easy and hard, beautiful and ugly."
In this scene Bá is talking about her late husband, Ong. She is explaining the emotion and feeling of pain, and how you can't avoid or neglect it. It is a powerful quote that really makes you put life in to perspective.
“I tell you of loss, my child, so you will listen, slowly, and know that in life every emotion is fated to rear itself within your being. Don’t judge it proper or ugly. It’s simply there and yours.”