A California girl born and raised, Mai can't wait to spend her vacation at the beach. Instead, though, she has to travel to Vietnam with her grandmother, who is going back to find out what really happened to her husband during the Vietnam War.
When eleven-year-old Bobbie Lynn's father is reported missing in action in Vietnam, she and her thirteen-year-old brother must learn to cope with their own despair, as well as their mother's breakdown.
Douglas Ashe keeps a weekly record of historical and personal events in 1968, the year he turns seventeen, including the escalating war in Vietnam, assassinations, rampant racism, and rioting; his first girlfriend, his parents' separation, and a longed-for sister.
Set in the 1970s, in the era of the Vietnam War and its volatile aftermath, Land of Smiles tells the story of a young Laotian man, Boontakone, and his journey from a refugee camp in Thailand to a housing project in Oakland, California.