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Vietnamerica: A Family's Journey

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,787 ratings  ·  254 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 duri
Hardcover, 281 pages
Published January 25th 2011 by Villard
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Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,787 ratings  ·  254 reviews

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Jun 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
I connected with Vietnamerica on a couple of levels, emotionally.

First, my earliest recall-able memories are from my time spent as a child in the Philippines, at Clark Air Force Base, 1973-75. Take a careful look at those years - yep, I was there when South Vietnam fell to the Vietminh. I clearly remember driving past the flight-line to go with my mother to the commissary for groceries and seeing a pair of Chinooks landing. One sported a big white square with a red cross emblazoned on it. I saw
Seth T.
Mar 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics

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
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Elizabeth A
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Book blurb: In telling his family’s story, GB finds his own place in this saga of hardship and heroism. Vietnamerica is a visually stunning portrait of survival, escape, and reinvention—and of the gift of the American immigrants’ dream, passed on to their children.

This graphic memoir is simply fantastic. In some ways it's a typical immigrant story, and in other ways it is a story specific to Tran's family. This comic wonderfully explores themes of family, love, loss, war, immigration, and what
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
By reading about the story of one Vietnamese family, it is easy to understand that their story is probably very similar to thousands of other families as well. It was simultaneously enlightening and heartbreaking. The story is a bit confusing at first, but eventually finds its grove and becomes totally engrossing. The art work was fantastic and GB Tran was really able to illustrate the emotions that went into his own family's story. Vietnamerica is an incredible true story of loss, hope, heartbr ...more
Hestia Istiviani
May 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Found this book in my host apartment & read it in one sitting.

It's simply told the live of the author and how it affected his entire family. Yes, about the Vietnam War.

Since I read the book while I am in HCMC, it gets me curious to know more about Vietnam War but from both perspective. Should I?
Ken Ransom
Mar 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
This isn’t a linear narrative. G.B. Tran tells an inter-generational tale about how Vietnam’s wars shaped his family. It starts in present-day Vietnam, then jumps between Tran’s experiences growing up in America and different members of his family recounting their lives in Vietnam.

Tran juggles the points of view of his father, mother, siblings, uncle, and his grandparents.

The jumbled narrative can be a challenge and sometimes it's tough to follow the shifting narrators. If you get lost there is
Ryan Huynh
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I think G.B. Tran does the best job of telling his family's journey using his craftmanship in comics. There are so many pages that I don't think will bring the same effects in other forms. Vietnamerica is like a birthday cake if you will. Emotional, family-oriented and never finished.
I am beyond grateful that I came into contact with this book. I checked out many graphic novels that are supposedly critically acclaimed and yet I found them to be complete rubbish. Then I randomly picked this book up without knowing much information and right away I am drawn to this story thanks to the illustration. I do not know how many times I have found graphic novels to be phenomenal partly by having the best illustrations. I honestly believe if you have the best graphics then you already ...more
Guillermo Galvan
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was very happy to find a comic book about Vietnam. Though I am too young to have had anything to do with the Vietnam war, I am fascinated by the era and its creative outlets, especially music and protest.

Vietnamerica is a memoir told from the perspective of G.B. Tran, a first-generation born son to parents who emigrated from war-torn Vietnam. In his adulthood, G.B.'s grandparents die, so he must accompany his parents to the funerals back in Vietnam. The reunion with his family and ancestral co
Jan 10, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Sep 18, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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
Aug 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“Our family wasn’t alone, we weren’t a special case.”

I'm a 2nd generation Vietnamese-American and Vietnamerica deeply moved me. It is uncanny how GB Tran's family and experience growing up in America mirrored my own. In the stories and personalities of his parents, I saw my own parents. In the indifference and lack of connection to family history of the author, I saw myself. I was gripped with emotion as I read this, shedding tears as I started to better understand my parents and my own roots.

Dec 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels, own
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
Dakota Morgan
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
Vietnamerica has some affecting sequences, a potentially fascinating family history, and occasionally memorable art. It's an overall mixed-bag, though.

GB Tran's memoir of his immigrant parents ranges widely, jumping from modern times, to Vietnam War times, to French Indochina times. However, the book includes zero date stamps, so it's often unclear when something is taking place. Tran's art style doesn't help, with characters changing appearance through the years without any real distinguishing
Steve Garvin
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novel
A good glimpse at the impact of an exodus from Vietnam to America. A heavy emphasis on the happenings in Vietnam through the war. As someone who isn't very familiar with what happened in Vietnam, this was a good introduction.

I though the illustrations were outstanding, but the layout and the story often made it difficult to follow what was happening.
Kien Lam
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I feel like most immigrants go through the same type of arc as Tran in one variation or another -- as kids, we don't think much about where our parents came from. It's not until they get older, and we get older -- as life moves towards an end -- that we think about its roots. I loved that this book structured itself around a narrator hesitant to ask his parents about their time in Vietnam. I know I didn't care about where I came from as a kid -- in fact, I wanted to be as removed from it as poss ...more
Tanvir Muntasim
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Honest and poignant graphic memoir that captures the pain and heartbreak that comes with being forced to leave your own country to venture into an uncertain future. G.B. Tran writes about his family members' lives during the turbulent history of Vietnam, how they coped with it and their transition to a life in the USA. Well drawn and written, though the narrative structure of following various family member's trajectories can be challenging at times, and needs revisiting the family tree in the i ...more
Kristin Boldon
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mfa, own, memoir, 2019, comic-book, new
An excellent family memoir in comic-book form of a young man coming to terms with his family's origins in Vietnam. Like Persepolis and Maus, this book tells many stories skillfully melding text and art.
Sarah Parker
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful graphic novel whose beautiful illustrations took me straight back to the streets of Saigon and Vung Tau.
Khalid Albaih
Apr 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Good book but it was a bit confusing. Didn’t grab me till the end. But that’s just me
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Vivid images and symbols. Loved the way it narrates the complex saga of the family in the backdrop of the Vietnam War.
As the only member of his family born in the United States, Tran grew up largely indifferent to the experience of his immigrant family in Vietnam and how they came to the United States following the fall of Saigon in April 1975. Tran decides to return to Vietnam in April 2008 with his parents after much prodding on the part of the his mother and a decisive edict from his stereotypically stern and distant father, and this comic documents the experiences of his parents, grandparents, and uncle dur ...more
LAPL Reads
Jan 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
"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,
Dec 15, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Rick Silva
Aug 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I actually bought this a couple of years ago and had put it aside. It got pulled back out when and packed with books I was bringing on the move to Vietnam (I pretty much grabbed up all of the Vietnam-related books I had in the massive to-be-read pile, which amounted to, well, several).

I'm glad that I read it now, because I always feel more connected to a book when I have some firsthand knowledge of the book's geography, and I've had the good fortune to visit Vung Tau, which much of this graphic
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
May 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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Gia-Bao (aka GB) Tran was born in South Carolina in 1976, a year after his parents fled Vietnam. He aspires to continue living the good life as a Brooklyn cartoonist/illustrator thanks, in large part, to the endless patience of his wife. His parents constantly remind him that if this “art thingy” doesn’t work out, he can, as the only family member born in the United States, be president instead.

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