Monday, October 03, 2011

Books that weren't: Little Laos on the Prairie

So, just to have some fun as we get ready for National Novel Writing Month in November, I'll be tossing out a bunch of plots for 'Books That Weren't,' such as this updated mash-up,  Little Laos On The Prairie:

In the early 1980s, Pa Inthavong decides to move the family from Sallisaw, Oklahoma, to Independence, Kansas where widely circulating stories emerged that Kansas had better opportunities for refugees rebuilding their lives.  While some kinfolk suggest moving to Beverly Hills or Bel Air, Pa is drawn to the promise of green acres and farm living, land spreading out so far and wide.

So Linda, along with Pa and Mae, Mani, and baby Khonnie, move to Kansas.

Along the way, Pa trades their GMC Vandura for a station wagon from a team of down-on-their-luck Vietnam veterans out of Los Angeles. When the family reaches Kansas, they meet Mr. Keaton, who is extremely polite to Mae, but tells Linda and Mani that he is "an ex-hippie from Columbus." Mr. Keaton is a helpful neighbor, and tries to help the Inthavongs every way which way he can, even helping Pa find their first house just outside of Independence. 

Everyone tries hard to adapt to the culture of Kansas, where most people hadn't ever really heard of Lao before, and you couldn't find a decent green papaya to save your life.

A few months after arriving, the Inthavongs become terribly ill from chickenpox. Mr. and Mrs. Smith, their other neighbors, take care of the family while they are sick, telling them they're lucky it wasn't the T-Virus everyone was so scared of, or Radon. Mr. Keaton brings Linda and Mani Christmas presents from Independence, and in the spring, the Inthavongs begin planting the first crops for their small farm.

But it's a hard go at farming for the Inthavongs, and when Pa hears from an old family friend about life in Minnesota, he starts to make plans to head up north. There, the weather is surely good and opportunities are plenty, especially near the lakes, where it is said "all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average."

Even though they've known hardship, they learned you can turn the world on with a smile, and after all, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow is another day.

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