Out Of The Darkness

Soua Lee Author Interview

The Fifth Wife: A Memoir of Hope, Love, and Faith shares your story growing up in a Hmong family and the culture that shaped your life, and the challenges you faced. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I wanted to write this memoir to bring awareness to cultural issues, identity, and mental health. Like other Hmong refugees who have had to abandon their homes in pursuit of peace and freedom, my parents made huge sacrifices, bringing my siblings and me to this new country, America. In return, I always wanted to give them everything I could. In publishing this memoir, I wanted to honor my parents and our past life in which we have struggled and survived. In the writing process, I healed as I gained a deeper understanding of my life’s purpose and recognized what’s truly important in front of me. I wanted to share my story to inspire readers, especially those still trying to figure out themselves and where they should be regarding educational achievements, career aspirations, and family needs. This memoir is like a self-help book; you will learn to appreciate mistakes and lessons learned from unexpected circumstances.

What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book? 

An idea that I wanted to highlight was that the brightest days would surely come after you get out of the darkness. Sometimes, you live through many storms, and life seems unfair, as if a good ending may never come. Many of us go through traumatic experiences; the aftermath of these situations can linger on deep within us. There are many ways to heal, and nothing is worth dying for. Another idea I wanted to point out is this: sensemaking is powerful. We can cultivate and define our experiences to benefit and strengthen us. It takes practice to get better at this. How we tell our story to ourselves (in our head) can destroy or empower us.

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

Three things that were most difficult to write about:

1) Sexuality: This is a topic that can be uncomfortable for some. I was nervous at first, unsure of how much information to share. For any parts dealing with sexuality, I did my best to edit and leave in only necessary information to support the story. Still, it’s tough. I feel like, as women, we’re not supposed to express our needs when it comes to our sexuality, and love should do fine without sexual desires. But honestly, it’s hard not to bring up this topic when it comes to romantic love. 

2) Depression: There is no word for “depression” in the Hmong language. And in mainstream culture, depression, like any other mental health issue – it’s not easy to grapple with. To highlight the fact that at one point in time, I was severely depressed, it can be embarrassing to admit. It makes me extremely vulnerable. Regardless, it’s a serious problem that needs more attention. I couldn’t skip over this part of my life. It took a lot from me. In return, there is much to learn from it.    

3) Reputation: It was hard to write about others whose lives intertwined with me, especially my parents and husband. I didn’t want their reputation to be tarnished by telling the hurtful truths of our past. I did my best to show the different sides of each person and how we are not perfect. We have many flaws. As human beings, we’ve all tried our best to survive tough times and make the best of every decision.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from your story?

Don’t judge a book by its title. Read this memoir with an open mind. You are about to enter into a world much different than yours. After reading this book, I hope you will feel uplifted. I hope you will be inspired with renewed energy and vision to keep trying to make the best of what you have.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

Mai Cee was born into a strict culture, birthed in a refugee camp, and brought to the United States of America at a young age. She is a perfectionist. She works hard at school and in her family’s home. With excellent grades, she has her mind set on pursuing a prestigious university education. Mai Cee wants to correct the imperfections of her roots and go far away to study, to carve out a new destiny of adventure and success.

When Mai Cee least expects it, true love crosses her path. She falls head over heels for a charming American soldier, a hero who has come to rescue her from her dull, senseless, and conflicting Hmong life. But this amazing lover has other secrets in store, secrets that may destroy everything Mai Cee has worked for including her goal of forever trying to please her father.

The Fifth Wife: A Memoir of Hope, Love, and Faith, is a compelling story about the pursuit of excellence and honor, a daring undertaking to find true love, and a willingness to make new meanings. Follow Mai Cee’s story to understand the consequences of grief and despair; the power of faith and forgiveness; and the bliss of rediscovering purpose.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on May 14, 2023, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.


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