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Paperback Book Details
  • 09/2022
  • 979-8985309003 B0BDNJCZX5
  • 343 pages
  • $15.00
Against the Wild Wind: A Memoir of Love, Sacrifice, and a Daughter's Search for a Missing Journey
AGAINST THE WILD WIND is a biographical memoir from the daughter of renowned performing artists of the famed French Grand Theatre during the 1940’s in Hanoi, Vietnam. In this engaging memoir she uncovers her parents’ golden past: from the height of their success on stage, their heady patriotic fervor, to the true depth of their sacrifice they endured in the midst of decades of political instability and radical social changes in their beloved Vietnam during: the French occupation, WWII, the Vietnam War, and later the domination by communist ideology. Despite the burden of a challenging mental condition at an early age her mother, an artist endowed with talent, beauty and relentless courage, is compelled to put her family before her own passion. In America, while caring for her mother, the daughter is urged into a complicated search to understand her emotionally absent mother and for clarity in her own dilemma as caregiver. This quest answers many questions about her own missing journey. The surprising reward for her perseverance is the golden nugget you will find in this highly affecting account of love, determination, and a mother-daughter’s amaranthine devotion.
Reviews
Nguyen-Utgaard’s painfully beautiful memoir recounts the life and struggles of two generations of her family in Vietnam’s war-torn second half of the 20th century. Primarily centered around the life of her mother, a famed stage actor in the 1940s who endured horrors and sacrifice afterwards, Against the Wild Wind tells both this deeply personal story, with an emphasis on how profoundly Nguyen-Utgaard “was molded in my mother’s silence,” as well as the larger narrative of Vietnam and its people.Throughout, breaking down her nation’s complex history and recounting the violence and political turmoil, Nguyen-Utgaard reminds readers that the price of war is finally paid by the masses and felt for generations.

By focusing on her mother Nhã Tiên’s experience during the anti-French resistance, the exodus of 1954, and other jolting events that lead up to the fall of Saigon in 1975, Nguyen-Utgaard sheds welcome light on the hardships that the women of Vietnam in particular had to bear while ensuring the survival of their families. The aftermath of war and the inter-generational trauma that permeates the lives of the survivors is also a recurrent and powerfully evoked theme. Nguyen-Utgaard calls herself and the other children of war “emotionally starved,” for her entire generation has grown up in dysfunctional families, carrying the wounds of an unstable childhood and absent parents.

Sweeping over decades yet deftly centering telling details and the extraordinary resilience of subjects who come alive as individuals on the page, Against the Wild Wind bursts with life in spite of its dark subject matter. Nguyen-Utgaard celebrates the countryside and villages and “orderly-divided rice fields,” the Hanoi Grand Theatre, the Saigon river, and her mother’s “enchanting” reminiscences of village life, including an essay her mother wrote, as a young student, that touchingly touts the many uses of bamboo. The author’s “yearning for her mother” and her mother’s “yearning for Vietnam” bind the themes of mother and motherland, resulting in a memorable, powerful read.

Takeaway: The powerfully told memoir of a daughter, her mother, and war-torn Vietnam.

Great for fans of: Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, Binh Tu Tran’s The Red Earth.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A-

Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 09/2022
  • 979-8985309003 B0BDNJCZX5
  • 343 pages
  • $15.00

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