Even though I am not Vietnamese I felt this story to be personal and too close to how much this book is relatable to me. This book is the story of G.B. Tran who finally visits Vietnam with his parents and discover the whole story about how his parents met, how they left the country and the worst life experiences his parents and family had to suffer during the Vietnam War and after. While reading this book, the living conditions these people experience reminds me about Cuba where my family comes from and while not to the horrible extent this book showcases nonetheless the suffering is universal.
When I look back on how much my grandparents had to sacrifice to come to America, I will always be eternally grateful to them. They did not know any english, had only one relative to claim them to enter America, and how to support two children before they were even 30 years old. My grandparents didn't get the full extent of the horrors of a dictatorship but they got to see basic human rights throw out the window, all currency was forced to return to the government where they controlled how much you receive with new currency, and people suffering with less food to eat and not getting paid enough to support a family all in the name of a revolution.
With the Vietnamese experience the same situations but lack of medical care, free speech, through into labor camps and suffer countless death because intellectuals were a danger to society and craziness of brainwash of a peaceful government under communist rule. For G.B. Tran parents, they simply thought that they were going to flee for about a year to let the new government get settled and moved back into their old home but in the end they never went back and it took two decades before his parents could visit Vietnam.
I am not going to go into plot because it ruins the whole purpose of reading this book but just know that this book is not a happily ever after story. While we get exclusive insight into the authors life and his family, we get to see the backdrop of the Vietnam War through the eyes of the Vietnamese. I am incredibly shocked how uneducated I am when it comes to Vietnam because both of my parents lived through it. While no one in my family fought in the war, they were young enough to remember and seeing the horrors.
Through the course of the story, we keep hearing GB's parents or family member keep telling him that he does not understand what they went through during this moment of time and contradict themselves when they mention that they wanted their children to never grow up and experience these hardships. I can relate to GB because it wasn't until a few years ago that I got the grasp on how bad Cuba was and has become and the depths what an evil man did to an island. I remember growing up hearing Cuba this and Cuba that and being oblivious of it all.
I visited Cuba when I was little and I haven't returned since and not because I do not care for my family but I do not like to visit a country that feels like a 3rd world country, where food is scarce, and then knowing at the end of the day that I am returning somewhere that looks like paradise while they continue to suffer. GB experienced these same feelings and the only reason why he finally visited is because his parents asked him and he learned that he needed to know his families history before it is too late. I highly recommend this book to everyone and the illustrations are absolutely beautiful.
Here are some of photos on this marvelous book and I hope you could check it out and read it.