Lee Solomon served in the United States Marine Corps from 1967 to 1976, with nineteen months spent in combat in Vietnam. Solomon is a Khe Sanh veteran. Khe Sanh was a remote outpost in Vietnam, famous for the full-scale siege from the North Vietnamese Army in 1968 that raged without stopping from January 21 until April 8. Of the effect on those who survived the relentless siege, Solomon states simply that they were all “just happy to be alive.” The total American causalities would be 205 killed, while the North Vietnamese would loose between ten to fifteen thousand.
It would have been easy for one who saw such combat horrors, to focus on those experiences. But Solomon took another approach to his book, No Price Too Great. He decided to write about getting on with your life after the war, and in spite of its abominations.
No Price Too Great is a love story based on Solomon’s own experiences of meeting a Chinese woman named Ping and her daughter, Cici. No Price Too Great relates Solomon and Ping’s mutual decision to begin a life together, with all the trials and tribulations entailed in bringing Ping and her daughter to the United States.
Many will see No Price Too Great as a book of two people finding each other against all odds, to make a family of three. Absolutely, this is the center of the book. But behind the words is also a veteran with a fragile soul, vulnerable in its intensity and sweet in its openness, struggling to live a full life with the promise of love and home in the form of a beautiful woman and her daughter. Solomon often shows himself to be skittish of rejection, like a cat who has had its tail rocked on too many times, and flees whenever it hears a creak. It is hard not to ache for one with such a wounded heart and learned instinct.
Solomon was an eighteen-year-old high school drop out when he joined the Marine Corps. During his tour in Vietnam, the young recruit spent a few days in Hong Kong on rest and recuperation (R&R), where he met and fell madly in love with a Chinese girl. Although the brief interlude would end with his return to his unit, Solomon never forgot his first love and developed a soft heart for the women of China. So it was not surprising that years after his service, the former Marine allowed himself to be introduced to a young Chinese woman, via mutual friends. Though Ping lived in China, the two were able to form a friendship through e-mails, where Solomon learned that Ping was divorced and had a young daughter. Ping learned that Solomon had put himself through undergraduate and law schools, in spite of his tenth-grade education. When Ping’s father died of cancer, Solomon aligned his true feelings for the young Chinese woman, and traveled to Hong Kong to introduce himself to his friend, who had become the love of his life.
It was not until the little family was settled in Texas that Solomon felt the urge to record his feelings. He joined in an online forum discussing his situation. When questions starting arriving from fellow veterans in similar situations to his, Solomon recognized a real need to document the process of coming together as a couple and establishing a family in America. No Price Too Great mirrors the troubling thoughts and raw emotions of a man facing these challenges.
Solomon’s passion for writing is evident in No Price Too Great. The prologue and first chapter are gripping with their vivid and lively descriptions, effectively pulling the reader into his childhood. As the book continues with the adult Solomon and his romance with Ping, there is a slight shift from telling a story to a style more reminiscent of a personal blog. Solomon describes the searching for a neighborhood, how Ping turned the house into a home, and what CiCi thought of her new school. The minute detail in No Price Too Great distracts at times, but the diary-like approach is a rich reference book for all who aspire to establish a family in this country with a partner from Asia. Many of Solomon’s fans will find this is exactly what they are looking for, but some potential fans may very well prefer Solomon’s wonderful gift for weaving a story.
In the end, Solomon concludes with a bit of creative fiction, seeing himself as a much older man, reminiscing on his life from the comforts of a rocking chair. It is a very effective and comforting end to a story of love, triumphs and setbacks, and ultimately, sweet contentment.
In spite of the fact that Solomon’s personal story is one of success, he strongly cautions against fraudulent representations. “(I) watched the family relationship and the extended family relationship closely. I also watched to see how Ping and our daughter interacted with their friends. Then I gave it time, lots of time, before we actually married. I didn’t rely on reassuring words. I waited until actions proved those words.” Solomon readily admits he has been lucky, then gives advice all of us could use: “Be careful. Be smart. Be happy.”
I am glad you made it back, Lee Solomon. And I am glad you and your family found the happiness you knew still existed in life.
To learn more about how the Solomon family is doing now, or the intricacies of marrying someone from another country, visit the author’s web site at http://www.leesolomon.org.
Posted by St. John on January 25, 2010, With 235 Reads Filed under Art, Books, & Entertainment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.