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Small Bamboo: How my family's journey on a leaky boat led to our wonderful life in Australia
In 1978, following a dramatic escape from war torn Vietnam, Tracy Vo's parents boarded a leaky boat not knowing what their future held or whether they would live. The couple had fled Vietnam under the cover of darkness, exchanged wedding rings en route to Malaysia, then sold them and their scant possessions to feed themselves and their 10 relatives on the journey. They wer ...more
Kindle Edition, 274 pages
Published April 23rd 2014 by Allen & Unwin
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I really enjoyed the first part of the story which was about Tracey’s family and their lives in Vietnam before, during and after the Vietnam war, and their eventual escape. When writing about her family and their experiences - as pilots, soldiers, prisoners, black marketeers, and eventually new immigrants, the pages were filled with depth and character. Yet, the second part of the story, Tracey’s own, was told with much less colour and much more name dropping, and as a result It took away the in ...more
Over the last year, I've started picking up reading again. Most of the books, that I've been reading, have been about cricket (KP's autobiography), railway travel (The Great Railway Bazaar), a handful of short narrowboat books, and one by a long distance bicycle tourer riding across Siberia in winter. Then I started this book in March. I can only say, this is one of the most gripping books I've read, for quite a while. Tracy tells an absolutely heartfelt story of her family, as they flee from Vi ...more
Oct 12, 2015 Helen rated it liked it
The story of Vo's parents' escape from Vietnam is one that seems particularly poignant in light of the current Syrian crisis. And I still can't get over the idea of her paternal grandma giving birth to 24 kids! When Vo talks about her own life, it does read a little simplistically and with minimal colour. Maybe this is Vo's background in factual news reporting, or emotional cautiousness, but her tenacity in pursuing her career has no doubt led to her success. I'm sure she's given inspiration to ...more
A really heartfelt, genuine recount of family experiences. A very positive recount from a fabulous journalist. Her book appealed to me as an adult but has genuine appeal to young adult readers. However, appeals to such a wide audience, I have recommended to my high school library as a purchase. As an english teacher, I can recommend this text to a number of my students from stage 4 to 6. There are probably students in stage 3 that would enjoy this honest appraisal of Tracy's accommodations and l ...more
I found the first part of this book, where Vo recounts her parents youth, lives in Vietnam, escape from Vietnam and subsequent new life in Australia were all quite interesting. The rest of the novel, Vo talking about her own life and experiences thus far felt a bit bland by comparison. The book also felt like it was written quite simply - good for a general audience but no literary masterpiece.
I have read The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do so I didn't really know whether I wanted to read Small Bamboo as it would be much the same. Of course it was in some respects but so different in others. The biggest lesson I learnt from both these books were that both these families were so grateful that another country would take them in and that they would work hard and make a life here.
A great privilege to read Tracy's story, a fascinating insight into 3 generations of her family, and her own success as a stellar journalist. A book all young people should read, to appreciate the good life we live here in Australia. Well done Tracy.