Review: WHERE THE WIND LEADS by Vinh Chung

Where the Wind Leads by Vinh Chung is a remarkable and inspiring true story of one family of refugees.  The Chung family had built themselves an empire in Vietnam but when the communists took over in 1975, they began to loose everything.  Eventually, the family realized that if they didn’t leave the country,  their growing family would have no chance for success in life. The family ended up becoming one of the thousands of “Boat People” who fled Vietnam and took to the sea,  not knowing where they would end up or if they would even survive.  After enduring horrifying conditions at sea, the family was eventually rescued and resettled in Fort Smith,  Arkansas.  The book follows young Vinh all the way until he graduates from Harvard and discusses the challenges of living in America.

18126604It’s hard not to read this book and not think about how immigration reform is in the news lately.  Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the majority of us have ancestors who were once immigrants or refugees.  For hundreds of years,  America has been a beacon of hope for others around the world as they dream of a better life.

Chung is a remarkable story teller.  He does an excellent job of explaining Vietmanese/Chinese culture to his readers.  The rules if their culture might not make sense to American readers,  but it is what kept the family alive.

One of the most inspiring topics in this book is the subject of faith.  The Chungs were one of the first families rescued by World Vision,  a Christian humanitarian charity.  While on the rescue boat,  Vinh ‘ s father listens to a sermon on Christ and begins to accept Him as his savior.  The entire family comes to believe that without Jesus they would have never been rescued.  Chung remarks on his faith and his family’s faith throughout the book.

I think the most touching story in the book was when Vinh graduated from Harvard Medical School.  In Vietnam,  doctors are highly revered.  Vinh ‘ s father had wanted to become a doctor but his family needed him to help run the business,  so he put aside his wants for the greater good. That didn’t stop Thanh from wanting his children to become a doctor.  Every one of his children were told that was what they were to become.  Vinh was the first one to succeed at this dream.  Vinh acknowledges all of the sacrifices his father made for him by handing over his diploma to Thanh.

I highly recommend this book to anyone.  This inspiring account will make you appreciate growing up in America,  away from wars and chaos. It is also a great example of living out the American Dream.

Reviewed by Candy

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About the Book:

Title: Where the Wind Leads

Author: Vinh Chung

Release Date: April 22, 2014

Publisher: HarperCollins

Category: Nonfiction, memoir

Source: Borrowed from Library

Book Summary:

Vinh Chung was born in South Vietnam, just eight months after it fell to the communists in 1975. His family was wealthy, controlling a rice-milling empire worth millions; but within months of the communist takeover, the Chungs lost everything and were reduced to abject poverty.

Knowing that their children would have no future under the new government, the Chungs decided to flee the country. In 1979, they joined the legendary “boat people” and sailed into the South China Sea, despite knowing that an estimated two hundred thousand of their countrymen had already perished at the hands of brutal pirates and violent seas.

Where the Wind Leads follows Vinh Chung and his family on their desperate journey from pre-war Vietnam, through pirate attacks on a lawless sea, to a miraculous rescue and a new home in the unlikely town of Fort Smith, Arkansas. There Vinh struggled against poverty, discrimination, and a bewildering language barrier—yet still managed to graduate from Harvard Medical School.

Where the Wind Leads is Vinh’s tribute to the courage and sacrifice of his parents, a testimony to his family’s faith, and a reminder to people every where that the American dream, while still possible, carries with it a greater responsibility.



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