Caves are sacred in Thailand, writes Thai American creator Christina Soontornvat in her splendid All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team. “A mountain holds power, and a cave affords a way to tap into that power.” Tourists and locals have long been drawn to the mysterious tunnels in Tham Luang-Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park. So it’s no surprise that during June 2018, the 12 members of the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach determined to discover the caves. By nighttime, their families knew some thing became wrong. The boys weren’t home, and the rainy season had arrived early. It soon became clear that the team became trapped far from the entrance via rising waters. For the subsequent 18 days, the boys’ households and lots of volunteers kept a vigil at the mountain. They have been joined through a collection of rescuers geared up to danger their lives to save the cold and hungry boys who waited and pondered below.
Soontornvat masterfully chronicles this terrific undertaking, in which superb advert hoc feats of engineering became commonplace. Her narration and the memories of the severa figures she interviewed are suspenseful and deeply felt. Interspersed with All Thirteen’s gripping account are fascinating, accessible analyses—supplemented through photos, diagrams, maps and more—of the cultural, technological, medical and religious considerations that affected the rescue effort, from Buddhism to climate exchange to political protocol.
The harrowing rescue required divers to navigate murky water and capricious currents while wearing the kids through slender passages. All Thirteen is an inspiring testomony to those 18 fateful days of communal empathy, dedication and hope. In Soontornvat’s talented hands, it’s at once a nail-biter and a revelation: “This rescue became impossible, and they did it anyway.”
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Author Christina Soontornvat reveals the lesson she learned from the contributors of the Wild Boards soccer crew.