Review: Vietnamese Memories Book 1: Leaving Saigon

“Courage” is an understated attribute that most immigrants possess but rarely were given credit for, even before our current presidential administration. As most of this xenophobia, has been going on for years, and yet they still came to our shores, which included my family. The fact that you leave the place you have known your whole life, to go somewhere else, to begin anew. To do all that and bring your family with you or to start a family after that, these actions are not what everyone has in them, these actions require fortitude and courage.

This truth rings even louder for those, who consider themselves refugees, as their search for sanctuary leads to them places where they never imagined being including America. Life can be so complicated and comforts like our First World problems becomes nonsense when you realize the problems they have. Thousands of their stories have been told, each one as interesting as the next and ones that should be told repeatedly. In Clement Baloup’s Vietnamese Memories Book 1: Leaving Saigon, the acclaimed author seeks to tell the stories of one family across different time periods as they leave their homeland.

The book begins as a primer for readers as Baloup surveys what he believes they know from popular culture but then quickly does a deep dive into Vietnam’s history. As one family member tells the family history through the cooking of prawn, which shows the power of exposition and the connection food has to one’s family. Each member unveils what their life was during that time and each gives a reason why they left the country of their birth. By book’s end, each family member shows to their family through their stories why love will always lead the way.

Overall, an engaging set of stories that both feel intimate but is universal to every person whose family immigrated over the last century. The stories as told by Clement Baloup are lovely, visceral and enthralling. The art by Baloup is beautiful. Altogether, a great book that pushes the boundaries of storytelling and remembers that true stories are sometimes more interesting than fiction.

Story: Clement Baloup Art: Clement Baloup
Story: 9.6 Art: 9.3 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

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