Published by Allen & Unwin on September 1st 2010
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs
Source: Library Book
Anh Do nearly didn't make it to Australia. His entire family came close to losing their lives on the sea as they escaped from war-torn Vietnam in an overcrowded boat. But nothing -- not murderous pirates, nor the imminent threat of death by hunger, disease or dehydration as they drifted for days -- could quench their desire to make a better life in the country they had dreamed about.
Life in Australia was hard, an endless succession of back-breaking work, crowded rooms, ruthless landlords and make-do everything. But there was a loving extended family, and always friends and play and something to laugh about for Anh, his brother Khoa and their sister Tram. Things got harder when their father left home when Anh was thirteen -- they felt his loss very deeply and their mother struggled to support the family on her own. His mother's sacrifice was an inspiration to Anh and he worked hard during his teenage years to help her make ends meet, also managing to graduate high school and then university.
Another inspiration was the comedian Anh met when he was about to sign on for a 60-hour a week corporate job. Anh asked how many hours he worked. 'Four,' the answer came back, and that was it. He was going to be a comedian! The Happiest Refugee tells the incredible, uplifting and inspiring life story of one of our favourite personalities. Tragedy, humour, heartache and unswerving determination -- a big life with big dreams. Anh's story will move and amuse all who read it.
Good Reads Reading Challenge 2017
Read Harder Reading Challenge 2017 (5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative.)
It was pure coincidence I picked Anh Donh’s memoir to feature in my immigrant challenge and it was such a great way to reconnect with Australia after my months of absence. I’ve been wanting to pick this up for an age now and truly glad I read this at my current stage of my life. I’m a proud Australian and so is Anh Do. He pays true homage to Australia and it’s culture and allows us to realise we truly are lucky to be part of this sunburnt country.
Anh’s memoir begins with anecdotes of his childhood and gives us insight right through to his adult years. His family play a major role in his life to shape the man he becomes. Anh’s mom is truly wonder woman with the sacrifices she makes for her kids and the suffering she undergoes to give them a better life. Even though Anh’s dad abandons the family during some of their most difficult times, it was great to read about his redemption from Anh’s point of view. Anh’s love and respect for his parents really shine from the pages, which gave me a few sniffles. I also loved the positiveness of Anh’s family, because no matter what life threw at them, they always had a very positive outlook, which was quite inspiring.
There are so many lessons to take away from this memoir….letting in too many refugees, this is a huge wake-up call to emphasize the poverty-stricken conditions people are risking their lives to escape, just so they can have a chance at a better life.
An emotional, inspiring and uplifting read with a great balance of humour & poignancy with simple yet effective writing to keep you reading late into the night.