April Online ebook club wrap-up – The Happiest Refugee
This month we read Anh Do’s The Happiest Refugee. I’m a big fan of Anh Do’s comedy and I’d heard great things about this book so I was looking forward to reading it.
This was a very easy book to read. Anh tells it as a series of stories in rough chronological order. Anh’s family fled Vietnam when he was very young and arrived in Australia as refugees. Here they build a life for themselves despite monetary and language barriers. Sadly, Anh’s father develops an alcohol problem and leaves the family when Anh and his siblings are quite young. Despite this, the siblings grow up to achieve great things including Anh’s brother, Khoa winning Young Australian of the Year.
This book is as much a tribute to Anh’s parents as it is a memoir. Anh particularly admires his mother’s spirit. Even when times were financially tough for the family, she was still willing to help others. Anh’s relationship with his father was strained and he didn’t see him again until he was an adult but he does share some of the philosophies he learned from his Dad.
I did enjoy the book and I think it should be essential reading for all Australians – it gives an insight into some of the hardships faced by refugees. Anh writes with a good combination of humour and sadness. In saying that I would have preferred to see more depth in it. Anh only scrapes the surface of his life and there is so much more I wanted to know. Then again, an in-depth story is probably more suited to a biography whereas this is a memoir.
Overall I’d recommend it to just about anyone from teenagers to adults.