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Past Experiences a Life Learning Lesson

Author Interview
Luan Vu Nguyen Author Interview

My Hidden Fear retells your story as a refugee and immigrant to the U.S. and all the obstacles you faced. Why was this an important book for you to write?

Writing this memoir was important to me because I want readers to know no matter how hard life is sometimes, we can certainly change its course. We can make our past experiences a life learning lesson.

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

The hardest thing for me throughout this whole experience is when I had to relive the events in my life where my physical violence hurt the ones I love. I never realized the extent of my anger and violence. I wish I would’ve acted in a different way, approach it differently.

What is one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you left Vietnam?

I wish someone had warned me the different experiences, feelings and outlook of entering a different country. Experience a new life as an adolescent without the support of family and friends is very lonely and scary.

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

From my story, I hope the readers would see the peace and freedom that I’ve finally acquired was always within me. Like anything in life, you have to make it yours—- no one can give it to you.

View Book Review

My Hidden Fear

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My Hidden Fear by Luan Vu Nguyen is a compelling memoir about a Vietnamese boy who was born in Saigon in 1973. He escaped South Vietnam when he was thirteen with his younger brother after several failed attempts. They traveled across Cambodia to Thailand where they lived as refugees until they received permission to come to the United States. Arriving in Minnesota as minors, they were put into foster care, where the two brothers ended up separated. The next thirty years were a nearly continuous cycle of making poor decisions and repeating the same mistakes as he battled loneliness, depression, fear, and addiction. Through it all, he missed the family he left back in Vietnam.

This is a candid and contemplative memoir that was very interesting to read. This book follows an individual’s personal experiences as a refugee, but also provides a first hand historical account of what happened to people in Vietnam after the end of the Vietnam War. The author also includes family photographs that I really enjoyed as it provided context and allowed for a deeper connection to the people in the book. Through the author’s candid admission of the many mistakes he made in the past, this book shows the human capacity to change, and triumph over trauma. The author suffered through hardship and abuse as a child, and he used drugs and alcohol to try to cope, becoming caught in a dark place for many years. But I found this memoir inspiring because, although he stumbled many times, he kept trying to be better.

While I enjoyed the memoir, I really wanted more details. For example, the author never mentioned what happened to his uncle after they parted ways following his first escape attempt, except for a brief note at the end of the book that his uncle eventually made it to the United States at some point in the thirty years after his nephews arrived. I was completed engrossed in the story and wanted to take a deeper dive into events that were skimmed over. The story spans more than three decades but is a very short book. The tone of the narrative was very matter of fact, and the story centered more on retelling the events that took place rather than delving deeply into the emotions that were experienced during these events.

My Hidden Fear is a memorable story of one persons life, unfiltered, and raw. Readers will quickly devour this short but potent memoir.

Pages: 76


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