I was born in Vietnam, but I was not Vietnamese; I was raised in America, but I was not American. I grew up Asian in character but American in culture, a citizen but always refugee. I had no lessons from the past to guide me, no right way to do things in the present, and no path to follow me in the future.
-Where the Wind Leads
Labor Day weekend is upon us, the unofficial end to the summer.
The best book I read all summer was “Where the Wind Leads: a refugee family’s miraculous story of loss, rescue, and redemption” by Vinh Chung, published in 2014. Of the 674 reviews on Amazon, 98% give this book a rating of 4 or 5 stars.
Chung came to America as a child from Vietnam. I won’t give any spoilers about the book (Vinh survives the journey to America….obviously…he did write the book).
The book is basically in three parts, each was fascinating in its own right. The first third (roughly a third) of the book talked about his family in Vietnam, his larger-than-life grandmother and the tremendous struggles (and tremendous successes) that his family had faced in Vietnam. They had nothing, had it all, and then had nothing.
The second third of the book deals with things getting worse in Vietnam during the years of war and Vinh’s family leaving Vietnam. He recounts their journey out of Vietnam and the harrowing experience that it was to ultimately be saved. This section could be a movie. It was that compelling.
The last portion of the book (at this point, I honestly thought the story would be anti-climactic. The action was over). But I honestly enjoyed the last section just as much as the rest of the book. He talks of being a refugee in America, learning a totally new culture. It was inserting to see Chung’s perspective as someone who came to America as a child. A Vietnamese family who was still very traditional but living life in America. There’s a lot more I could say but I don’t want to give spoilers.
It’s a book that shows the providence of God, the love of family, and the value of hard work. Amazing book. One of those books that you wish wasn’t done because it’s so good.
Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear what you think, and don’t forget to subscribe!
Josh Benner is the associate pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in Minnesota.