In a Rocket Made of Ice
Among the Children of Wat Opot
By Gail Gutradt
Knopf Publishing Group, Hardcover, 9780385353472, 352pp.
Publication Date: August 12, 2014
List Price: $25.95*
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Gail Gutradt was at a crossroads in her life when she learned of the Wat Opot Children's Community. Begun with just fifty dollars in the pocket of Wayne Dale Matthysse, a former Marine Corps medic in Vietnam, Wat Opot, a temple complex nestled among Cambodia's verdant rice paddies, was once a haunted scrubland that became a place of healing and respite where children with or orphaned by HIV/AIDS could live outside of fear or judgment, and find a new family--a place that Gutradt calls "a workshop for souls."
Disarming, funny, deeply moving, "In a Rocket Made of Ice" gathers the stories of children saved and changed by this very special place, and of one woman's transformation in trying to help them. With wry perceptiveness and stunning humanity and humor, this courageous, surprising, and evocative memoir etches the people of Wat Opot forever on your heart.
“It’s hard not to fall in love with the author, the subjects, and the message of this beautiful book of stories and photographs. The warmth, the thoughtfulness, the writerly craft Gail Gutradt brings to an orphanage in Cambodia—and the stories and people she finds there—teach us not only about wisdom and compassion, but also about how to give our lives meaning, right now. Read it, and act on the heart-lifting vision of a universal humanity it brings so movingly home to us.” —Pico Iyer
“Wat Opot is a community that not only saves the lives of its residents but enriches our lives through its lessons in generosity, empathy, and resilience. Before I read Gail Gutradt’s moving account, I had never heard of it. Now I will never forget it.” —Anne Fadiman
“Much more than a story of hope in the face of grim news and chronic disappointment, Gutradt makes a compelling case for the efficacy of ingenuity, imagination, and a commitment to human dignity in accompanying each other through adversity.” —Dr. Paul Farmer (from the Introduction)