Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Ugly Daughter” as Want to Read:
The Ugly Daughter
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Excerpt* *Different edition

The Ugly Daughter

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  176 ratings  ·  52 reviews
The Ugly Daughter is a thrilling memoir, the gripping true story of a young girl who witnessed horrific murders and who overcame cruel abuse and unimaginable tragedies to find love and happiness.

Julia Legian's emotionally, harrowing and fascinating memoir reveals how she endured a series of unbelievable tragedies and heartbreaking abuse from the hands of her parents and gr
Paperback, 202 pages
Published February 3rd 2014 (first published February 2nd 2014)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Ugly Daughter, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Sarah Stevens I have not read the book but I saw your question and I think I can answer anyway. Because this is a story about real people in a real life, and real p…moreI have not read the book but I saw your question and I think I can answer anyway. Because this is a story about real people in a real life, and real people are messy and imperfect, and the real world is a broken place. Some times things parents do leave scars on their children forever and they make those scars because of their own scars (mental illness, disillusionment with life , abuse cycles for example)(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  176 ratings  ·  52 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Ugly Daughter
Brian Levene
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Ugly Daughter is one that I can honestly say is an interesting read. It is a moving story about the life of a Vietnamese family that will pull you in and never let you go until you're finish reading it. We tend to forget sometimes the sheer determination it takes to survive our situations in life. If you ever had to struggle in life then this story will be easy to relate to. It is a true testament of the saying, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Good job Julia & Be Proud! Never let ...more
Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to the possibilities; Truth isn't.- Mark Twain. The setting of this memoir reads like a popular young adult (adolescent) dystopia or post-apocalyptic genre work of fiction. I am the same generation (Generation X) as the author and remember a world where some countries were governed by some group's distorted idea of an utopia society that really was a totalitarian dystopia, and if you didn't fit that idea of their utopi ...more
Elyse  Walters
Aug 26, 2014 rated it liked it
I like Julia Legian - Goodreads friend, a remarkable survivor, filled with vitality!

This is Julia's memoir --the courage it took living with abuse as a child -in poverty -hungry - with loss -without love when she needed it most --often betrayed in Vietnam and how she escapes.

My heart broke when she lost her one best friend.

What I didn't like was the ending. It came to a sudden stop --(a second book on its way). I didn't like the discovery.
I wanted to read Julia's story out of 'friendship-and-r
Kaleena Rheeya
Feb 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebooks
"The Ugly Daughter" is a true story of a young girl named Loan who lived in Vietnam in the 1970's. Much of the material in the book is heartbreaking as Loan and her family struggle to live day to day. Despite the hardships, this is an endearing story about a fierce young girl who never deters from who she really is despite what she is put through.

Important to note that this is just the first part of the story. The book leaves at quite a cliff hanger. I highly recommend this book for anyone who i
Sara G
Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was an incredibly interesting book about one girl's horrifying childhood in Vietnam in the 1980s. It's interesting that it's told in a matter of fact, conversational tone, although the subject matter is awful at times. The only part I disliked was the abrupt ending. I prefer complete novels to cliffhangers like that. Otherwise, this book is well worth the read. Truth is stranger than fiction, that's for sure. ...more
Camille Khairallah
Mar 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading Julia Legian's biography The Ugly daughter. I recommend it to anyone who loves learning more about foreign cultures with a twist of somewhat "supenatural" stories that make it seem too good to be true!

I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did :)
Leigh Wilson
Jun 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is one of the most memorable books that I have ever read and I have no doubt that many other readers will feel the same way about it.
It is a remarkable and powerful story that illustrates how the human spirit can overcome the most traumatic and ghastly experiences.
Told through the eyes of an intelligent, mischievous and energetic young girl, this autobiography takes us through some of the events of Julia Legian’s earlier childhood growing up in Vietnam and beyond.

Many of these stories
Jill Dobbe
Apr 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Ugly Daughter is a riveting read and one that I had a hard time putting down. I am already looking forward to the next installment!

Loan (the author's given name) goes through numerous harrowing experiences that easily could have left her for dead. She believed that there was something or someone watching out for her, which I also believe had to be the case. In her youth, Loan suffered from hunger, poverty, and extreme abuse at the hands of her parents. She also comes very close to losing her
Lorraine Sears
Feb 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Julia Legian takes you on a very personal journey in this the first volume of her memoirs.

Reading some of the atrocities she witnessed as a young child, and the hardships she endured will bring a tear to your eye more than once.

The writing is raw and basic, never once dressing up what is without doubt one of the most shocking and compelling things I have ever read. What makes it all the more astounding is that despite living in Vietnam during an intense political and military period, young Loan
Mar 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Ugly Daughter was a free download from Amazon. I was intrigued by the graphic details of the life in Vietnam. Julia's life was so difficult. Her parents treated her with such harsh words, threats, and fear. I kept reading each page wondering how is she going to live through this situation. I'm amazed she survived.
Knowing how much I love my grandchildren, I truly understand the deep connection she had to her grandmother. Julia's story should give hope to anyone that is hungry, cold, sick, p
Mar 20, 2014 added it
This is an engaging, yet confronting account of the author’s childhood in Vietnam during the 70s and 80s. The horrors she faced at a tender age make me appreciate my own innocent, unburdened childhood. From verbal and physical abuse, to near drownings, and being witness to shootings, suicide, public execution by firing squad, and an acid attack, the author’s reactions to these disturbing events show her tough character. In between the dark moments of her childhood, there are rays of light: the l ...more
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autobiographies
At first I thought, an autobiography who's author is a bit over 40 years old, couldn't be a very convincing. Big mistake! The book caught me - at first quite off guard - from the first to the last page. As I wrote in one of the status updates: It made me reflect on my own happy childhood and leaves me quite thoughful. You should put this on your to-read list for sure! ...more
Karl Wiggins
May 07, 2015 rated it did not like it
WHAT!! What happened there? Mid-line this book just finished, leaving the reader feeling they’ve been ripped off. It just stopped mid-action.

This was always going to be a 3 Star, but after ripping the reader off like that it’s never going to get more than 1 Star from me, and I certainly won’t be buying Book Two just out of principal because it finished on such a cheap shot. As far as authors are concerned, this is the ultimate sin. Bringing the story to a grinding halt without even dropping down
Jenny Hayworth
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was enthralled from the first chapter. The author is an amazing woman to survive her journey so far after experiencing what she did. I really want to read more and find out what happened to her. Please hurry for part 2! The author paints a harrowing picture of the extremely poor and deprived living conditions, level of starvation and physical and emotional abuse she and her family experienced. I was very interested in the grandmother and how her love and devotion and that of other people at cr ...more
Feb 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
A free kindle book , which is poorly written still is stunning book about a Vietnamese girl child who lives in abject proverty in South Vietnam. Apparntly there will be a second book because this one left off without fulfilling the promise the author made at the beginning and has the reader hanging at the end.
Jan 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Vicarious travelers
Recommended to Darlene by: the author, Julia Legian
Why do I read? I read to travel to other places. I read to get inside other people's lives and or minds. This book certainly satisfied all of that.

Reading about Julia Legian's life made me grateful I didn't have to live her life. Reading about her part of Vietnam made me grateful to be raised in Southern California and in the USA. Yet, I did feel enriched by reading about her young life.

Though it was a quick read, after all the author is still alive, the writing was done well. I was sorry to see
Jeannie Frazer
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I found this memoir compelling and inspirational. I read it in two days, which means for me, I couldn't put it down.

Set in South Vietnam the story is told by Loan Thi Ngugen (author's given name) describing her horrific life as a young child. This is a story about survival and courage which takes you on an extraordinary journey that will pull at your heartstrings and make you feel thankful for all that you have.

Although facing many atrocities and sadness, young Loan is strong-willed and deligh
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014-book, memoir
A story of survival - this is the memoir of Loan Thi Nyugen, born in South Vietnam in the early 1970's, who endured so many horrific hardships as a child, while living in a dysfunctional family. Loan lived with parents who were described as ugly monsters, who abused her constantly. Her Dad became extremely abusive and cruel to her and Loan's anger and hatred grew with the way he treated her Mum. I was touched by the relationship between Loan and her grandmother, who appeared to have an unshakeab ...more
Darrick Williams
Sep 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Firstly, like many have said, this is raw and uncut, no sugarcoating here. If so, my God.
Julia Legian story starts off by her talking about her childhood. A childhood I find would be a difficult one to survive. Yet, I feel so many have and still do I suppose. She talks about an abusive mother, father, death, and war.

Julia shares how the hut/house she lived in is almost daily taken by the high tides. She also talk about faith, voodoo, and how her school was filled with human feces. All of this
Kara Zajac
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loan's story is captivating, yet painful. The suffering and abuse she endured throughout her childhood makes you really feel for her character, wishing for some good fortune to come her way. The volume ended rather abruptly. I look forward to reading the next volume learn more about her story of survival. ...more
Apr 30, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is well written and chronicles the squalid conditions Loan was raised in. At the end of the book, she is a teenage refugee. It ends rather abruptly; I think there is a second book.
Courtney Toohey
There is a familiar saying that conveys that often times, reality is far stranger than fiction. When in life, we encounter things that our imaginations could not have conjured up on our own, we often lament that “we couldn’t have written this stuff!” Julia Loan Legian’s life as told in the memoir The Ugly Daughter, which is also co-authored by Dawn Burke, is the embodiment of the aforementioned ideals.
Legian and Burke take us back to a time that we would all much rather have not have happened i
Phuong Phan
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"The Ugly Daughter" is based on a true story of a young girl named Loan and her family who lived in Vietnam in the 1970's. The family lived with poverty, family struggles and numerous adversity that they had to live through hardship, lack of love, poverty stricken and heart breaking where loosing important people in her life. Despite the hardships and challenges, Loan continues to live fiercely though her journey. A courageous spellbounding book from poor to riches and filled with spiritual mome ...more
Dec 27, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I received this book as a free giveaway from the author. I thought perhaps that the dual author front cover would have a different presentation inside, but I didn't find that so. I don't understand Dawn Burke's role in this book. Did she edit it? Did she help write it? I don't believe it was explained.

There is no doubt that Julia grew up amidst poverty, abuse and neglect. That's what appears to be most of what the 143 pages are about. Even then, they are told in a rather disjointed fashion. Perh
Jo-Ann Murphy
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, kindle
I am happy to have received this book as a gift. I could not put it down.

It is a captivating story and a very easy read, though often the subject matter is hard on the heart. The author does a good job of drawing the reader in and holding their interest. She did a good job of capturing the voice of the child she was at the time. It was a pleasure to read a book that has been proofread and had no spelling or usage errors.

This woman had a fascinating childhood in Vietnam and Malaysia. The book cov
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was very interesting to read about. I've never read a book like this before. I thought it was going to be really different than what it turned out to be. I mean I didn't know how bad it was in Vietnam. They had really really bad over there for a long time or until now. I thought it was interesting to find out about. The people over their were trying to do everything in their power to make their homes and have healthy children. It didn't seem to be working out. The children se ...more
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This was a raw and detailed account of a Vietnamese girl's formative years. I encourage you to read the book's summary and then imagine the shamefully unthinkable examples to prepare yourself before reading this true story. I respect anyone who would share their traumatic story artistically. It's construct is similar to a chronological diary however without dates. There aren't any lulls throughout because each account is captivatin
Jul 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Written sometimes with the candid fervour of the child who went through all the episodes of poverty, violence and neglect, Julia Legian first volume of her memoir is very challenging for the reader. Born and raised in Vietnam for the first years of her life, Julia recounts in small details her first years of life, till the escape by boat to Malaysia and further on, to Australia, where she lives today. More about the review on my dedicated blog post: ...more
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I knew this book was going to be a difficult read, but given the smiling face on the cover and what I know of Julia from online interviews and interaction on Goodreads, it was really surprising and downright shocking to discover the extent of her suffering and abuse. It is hard to imagine that anyone could even survive the hardships detailed in this book, much less grow into such a kind, generous, and happy person! Julia's life story of courage and determination can bring hope and encouragement ...more
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is hard to review. It was an emotional read; very difficult because of the cruelty, violence, and tragedy. It's hard to believe that family members can be so cruel to each other. The book ends somewhat abruptly, but I would recommend it if you have a thick skin. ...more
« previous 1 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Law of Innocence (Mickey Haller, #7; Harry Bosch Universe #34)
  • Number the Stars
  • The Silent Wife (Will Trent, #10)
  • Concrete Rose (The Hate U Give, #0)
  • Amish Homecoming: The Proposal (Amish Country Romance #1)
  • White Queen of the Cannibals: The Story of Mary Slessor of Calabar
  • Once Is Enough
  • Shifting Sands: Life in Arabia with a Saudi Princess
  • Before She Disappeared
  • Dead Water (Shetland Island, #5)
  • Cold Earth (Shetland Island, #7)
  • The Sanatorium
  • When I'm Gone
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou's Autobiography, #1)
  • Orphan Train
  • Everyone Brave is Forgiven
  • We Begin at the End
  • When He Vanished
See similar books…
See top shelves…
My name is Julia Legian (aka Loan Thi Nguyen). I was born in 1972, South Vietnam. Or was it 1971? Nobody really knows so I prefer to err on the young side. In the 80s my family fled Vietnam as “boat people” and immigrated to Australia.

I'm happily married to my husband, Simion, and I have a wonderful, kind, and loving son, Jeremy.

I'm not a professional writer, just an ordinary person with an extra

Related Articles

  Luvvie Ajayi Jones—author, cultural critic, digital entrepreneur—might be best described as a professional truthteller. Her crazily popular...
53 likes · 0 comments