In mid-November, my neck of the woods was blessed with an ice storm. Naturally an errant tree branch, heavily burdened by the accumulating ice rendered us powerless. Ice storms and power outages go hand in hand so it was no big surprise really. It was just me and my daughter here at the time, shrouded in darkness, huddled together under a blanket with our respective Kindles. Thumbing through my cache of books that I had fully intended to read long before now, my eye rested on Goodbye Junie Moon: A Vietnam Memoir by June Collins.
June takes us through her difficult childhood and young adult life in Australia. It was sad to read how she was abused by the pre-feminist culture of the time. But it's June's spirit of adventure and refusal to give in to convention that propel her towards an independent life, first in Australia, then the Philippines and beyond. Despite her enmeshment in the world of exotic dancing, June never loses her perspective and self-respect.
Eventually June lands in Vietnam as an entertainment booking agent. Because she is so well-liked, she quickly makes friends in high places and discovers how some army club officers are swindling money through kickbacks.
It's June's compassion that compels her to do something about the unconscionable disparities between the cushy life of the officers and the embattled suffering of the front-line troops. And it's her tenacity and bravery that make her successful.
Corruption is an unfortunate, infuriating part of humanity but when whistle-blowers put principle over their own safety and do the right thing, it makes for a great story. This is one great story.