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Vietnamerica: A Family's Journey

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  647 ratings  ·  124 reviews
A superb new graphic memoir in which an inspired artist/storyteller reveals the road that brought his family to where they are today: Vietnamerica

GB Tran is a young Vietnamese American artist who grew up distant from (and largely indifferent to) his family’s history. Born and raised in South Carolina as a son of immigrants, he knew that his parents had fled Vietnam durin
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 25th 2011 by Villard
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Community Reviews

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Seth Hahne

Easily one of the more interesting aspects of Art Spiegelman's Maus (at least narratively speaking) is the interaction between the author's character and a past he knows little of. Spiegelman tries to understand his father's place in historical events from a place divorced locationally, culturally, and historically from the world in which his father formerly lived. In Vietnamerica, GB Tran unveils his own association with a family history of which he was almost entirely ignorant. His work seems
Books like this certainly take a lot of courage to write and I was certainly impressed it it. In fact, I sat and read it all in one afternoon--not because the plot pulled me in, but because the intensity was so strong I knew I wouldn't be able to stop thinking about it if I did put it down.

There is no doubt that GB is an artist because he is able to provide the reader with important ideas without words. On the other hand, I had a very difficult time following it because it was all over the place
Jan 26, 2011 Kristen rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Seth Hahne
Recommended to Kristen by: Amazon Vine
I have a limited exposure to graphic novels and memoirs, but I was particularly moved by Persepolis and I wanted to like Vietnamerica. On many levels, I did. The art was good, and I only had a black and white ARC. I am sure it will be better with color. The story was interesting and I think readers will enjoy and learn from this book.

However, I found it confusing on many levels. The story follows Vietnam through a number of geo-political shifts which were explained in brief but could have been e
perfect perfect perfect
i know exactly how g.b tran felt when he wrote this
the golden spiral panels were so genius in this book
somebody please get me a tissue or two or two hundred
2nd generation hurts
i will re-read this and then re-read it again and again
the colors -- why do i suddenly have a
Feb 18, 2012 Jenny rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jenny by: Chester
Vietamerica is a narrative exploration through which GB Tran works through his complicated family histories and it's his attempt to understand his enigmatic father and mother. Tran shows he was pretty much indifferent to his parent’s story during his adolescence and this book was the impetus in his adulthood to map out that history and to maybe make up for his previous asshole-ness.

As a work of art, Vietamerica is amazing. The art is dynamic, inventive, varied, and the coloring sets the mood for
Really beautiful personal story about the creator's family's history in Vietnam. I haven't read many stories about what it was like to be a citizen of Vietnam during the war. Tran traces his family lineage, talking about his grandparents and his parents. The illustrations are just stunning and there's also a page or two of photographs of his family. He uses lots of different styles of panels, including some absolutely amazing full-pagers that you want to frame and put up in your house. One sligh ...more
I picked "Vietnamerica" because the cover appealed to me while rummaging through the non-fiction travel section of my public library. I also thought it was pretty cool to find a graphic novel as 'travel' book.

"Vietnamerica" often left me confused. The characters weren't distinctive enough and the switching forth and back between present and past and different viewpoints (or collective memory) didn't help either (although some of the confusion was solved after having read the next part). This is
Really enjoyed this book! Only my second graphic novel, but I'm getting hooked on the format after two great reads!

I'm a bedtime reader - but with this book (and perhaps all graphic novels) I noticed that it was better to read the book in full light during instead of with just my reading lamp - the colors and artwork were much easier to appreciate in full light! I also liked how GB Tran used different graphic cues (font, text, colors) to identify the various speakers and time periods of the memo
I am almost too emotional right now to write this review. This is because I am also a second-generation Vietnamese American who has been largely indifferent to my parents' history until recently. GB's family saga holds personal significance to me, because it brings into stark relief the generational and cultural divide that separates my own family. However, I believe that other readers without a similar background to the author will also be drawn to this visceral graphic memoir.

Tran's family jo
This graphic memoir tackles one of the crucial themes of the American immigrant experience: the tension between the first generation immigrants' struggle to get to America and their children's relative lack of interest in that struggle and their cultural heritage. The family story being told here is that of Gia-Bao ("GB") Tran, who was born in South Carolina to parents who escaped Vietnam hours before the fall of Saigon in 1975. While he touches upon the problems of cultural assimilation experie ...more
I do like some graphic novels, Satrapi's Persepolis, and Speigelman's Maus: A Survivor's Tale for example. However, for some reason, I have problems focusing on those GNs with many, many details on a page. It's what I call "too busy" for me. This is just me and I wish it were different, but...

I'm certain that this is a beautiful story about a 1st generation American learning the intricacies of what makes a family history important, and the intimacies not usually spoken of in America, leading him
My own parent also immigrated to America from Vietnam (even though we are ethnically Chinese) so the stores told about GB Tran's family really resonated with me. Although my parents did not exactly deal with the exact same things that Tran's family went thorough there is a familiarity in reading about the troubles and sentiments about leaving your home country and returning many years later.

Any first generation American child would be able to relate to the struggles that are depicted in this. E
This is my very first graphic novel, a genre that takes time to get used to as there is so much to "see" and in this case, the story went awol sometime...who' s is telling me what now....
I regret that the author didn't go deeper in the first years of the family in America, it must have been soooo difficult for them. although , when you are in a safe country, you don't tend to complain about the different life style, and maybe you try to hang on to a little bit of the old country.
It's very inter
Maurice Carlos Ruffin
I came across this graphic novel in the "Read" branch of the New Orleans library. (My home library, the one I enjoyed when I was a boy.) I was walking out of the library with two other books when I saw this one on a display in the stairwell. Apparently, I was meant to read it.

New Orleans has one of the largest populations of Vietnamese people in America. Many of my elementary school classmates were Vietnamese-American and the youth orchestra I played in was, at times, majority Vietnamese-America
LAPL Reads
"You should ask them about it sometime. There's a lot about your parents you don't know. And they won't be alive forever to answer your questions."

On April 25, 1975, GB Tran's family fled Vietnam, just days before Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese Army. A year later, he was born in South Carolina, and grew up a junk food-eating, video game-playing American kid with little interest in his family's history. However, when his last two surviving grandparents die within a few months of each other,
"You can't look at our family in a vacuum and apply your myopic contemporary western filter to them."

This quote from GB Tran's father in Vietnamerica is one of the more thought provoking quotes from anything I've read this year, comics medium or not. As an avid reader of history, I've found myself having read a number of books about both the French and American wars in Vietnam. But I never read anything that truly looked at those same experiences from a non-Western source, especially one that wa
Tim Chaplin
The graphic novel Vietnamerica is the family story of GB Tran whose parents fled Vietnam in 1975 after the fall of Saigon when the American’s gave up the war and the tanks rolled in from North Vietnam. The author was born in 1976 in South Carolina in the USA. Growing up in the US his life is much different to their past experiences and he is not really interested in his family history. This changes when he visits Vietnam after the death of his grandparents who died within months of each other. T ...more
Five stars! GB Tran's work is a brilliant portrayal of the struggles and discontinuities of his family/ancestral history--he gives us exactly what history should be: always fluid, polymorphous and made up of varying scopes/angles. VIETNAMERICA is GB Tran, son of Vietnam immigrants, exploration of his parent's past and the conflicted homeland they left behind. Along the way Tran is constantly asking: What do I care? It's in the past. In a note Gia-Bao-Tran, his father quotes Confucius, "a man wit ...more
Feb 03, 2012 Claire rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No one
The premise of the story is a good one, details the trials and tribulations of GB's parents in what leads to their coming to America from Vietnam during the war, a little bit like how Maus was written. Unfortunately the story line is all over the place, this normally wouldn't be a bad thing, but it is really hard to tell, this being a comic and all, who the different characters are based on their likenesses alone. The script is supposed to indicate who is speaking but I didn't catch on to that u ...more
Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
This year, I seem to have read a lot of books about characters (real or fictional) who try to get to know their roots better. Some go to their native country or the country their ancestors are from. Others reconnect with their families. I don't know if I'm semi-consciously levitating towards such books or if it's all chance. This is the second time that I'm reading a book on such a theme via the graphic medium (the first was The Complete MAUS). I was curious about how this would turn out. On one ...more
My review vaporized.

Picked it up off the shelf of our graphic novel display, read it, went to put it back on the shelf and ended up talking about it with a patron...then handing it off to him. So, there we go, word of mouth advertising!

This is a great book and it offers a Vietnamese perspective of Vietnam during the end of the French occupation and throughout the Vietnam War up to the time his parents flee to America at the end of the war. GB goes to Vietnam to honor the deaths of Grandmothers o
Like so many other reviewers here on goodreads, I had some difficulties following Tran's narrative; there are continual shifts in voice that have little in the way of indicators for the reader to pick up on (some characters have a special script, but others do not. Also there are many characters and it is somewhat difficult to keep all the names straight as you read owing to the pace of Tran's story-telling and to a lack of familiarity with Vietnamese names). But for me this was part of what mad ...more
This visually stunning and honest graphic novel is partly a memoir of the author/illustrator's own reconnection with his cultural roots in Vietnam. Essentially, this is the often-complicated and not easily understood saga of his parents and their ancestors. Tri Huu Tran, his father, grew up with artistic ambitions that were discouraged by his mother and resulted in his becoming a teacher while Dzung Chung Tran, his mother, grew up in a small village where she fell in love with her teacher. Knowi ...more
Andy Shuping
One of the things that I’ve always liked about the graphic novel format is that it can work really well for telling some biographical stories that wouldn’t work well in print, such as Maus, Persepolis, and Stitches. Each of these artists illustrates their stories in a way that enhances the story. Maus in written format wouldn’t be as powerful and the mental connections that we make to the story would be lost. And I think that GB Tran’s Vietnamerica can also be added to that list. Tran brings to ...more
John Beck

I read graphic novels in hopes of finding ones as good as GB Tran's Vietnamerica.

Vietnamerica is not an easy read, visually nor narratively. I suspect that is why it didn't win the Eisner Award it was nominated for at Comic-Con earlier this week.

Tran's drawing style is broad, really
too universal. In Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud argues that drawn characters fall on a matrix ranging from the universal (think
Born a year after his parents fled the fall of Saigon, G.B. Tran spent his life ignorant to the hardships endured by his family during French-occupied Vietnam and then the American presence that led to the war. He never had much interest in learning his family history despite his parents' coaxing. However, his grandmother has just died and he must return to Vietnam to pay respects. It is this unfortunate event that ignites his curiosity in his family history, and he takes the reader on a visual ...more
I think I enjoyed the art the most - which would make sense considering this is a graphic novel. The color themes are great, switching from story to story. But the triumph of Tran's book are the illustrations that end each chapter - the full panels are clever and touching, some sentimental and some astute repurposing of communist propaganda.

I didn't warm to the actual storytelling immediately. It took me a while to figure out that the author was leading me on the same unveiling of his family st
I enjoyed this graphic novel because there were some genuinely moving images in its pages. At one point I turned the page and literally gasped at the surprise Mr. Tran had waiting on the next page.

At first, the narrative structure of it really bothered me because I at first did not see the logic of it. As the book unfolded though, I understood the choices he was making and appreciated why he was telling the story in what at first seems a disjointed fashion.

My only real difficulty was the 2nd c
Even though this book was sometimes confusing because of all of GB's different relatives, it was definitely a moving story about loving a country that tears itself apart and how an escape is often more bitter than sweet.

GB was born in the United States. He did not show much interest in his Vietnamese heritage until he was in college. Both his parents left Vietnam as Americans pulled out of the war. This story is more about what forced GB's family out of Vietnam than the struggles they had in th
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