Title: The Land I Lost
Author: Huynh Quang Nhuong
Major Themes: 1900s, Vietnam, Historical Nonfiction, Autobiography
Synopsis: An older man looks back at his childhood in Vietnam, sharing beautiful stories illustrating the rich culture he grew up in, telling about the land that is lost to him forever.
Reading The Land I Lost transports you over fifty years back in time, to a place that will never be the same again. I enjoyed the glimpse into the lush, beautiful jungles of Vietnam—I should have known what they were like, but had no clue how diverse they are. The book, a true story, gave me a startlingly real picture of life for a young boy before the Vietnamese war broke out.
Huynh Quang Nhuong (the author, and also the main character of the book) lived peacefully with his family and neighbors in their little hamlet tucked into the highlands of Vietnam. Following the fascinating ride generated by fifteen superbly written stories, you are able to get a sense of how exhilarating it was to live there as a child, and yet how much danger there was as well. You’ll read stories about all kinds of animals—from huge pythons to crocodiles, and also about a family friend—their trusty water buffalo, Tank.
Besides just stories about Huynh’s family, you also hear other stories along the way. Each is entertaining, each adding their own unique bit of the Vietnamese culture to the story. My brothers and I don’t mind hearing this book over and over—the stories are always fascinating and full of life. Vietnam is a country we learn little about besides hearing of the wars, and this book is a wonderful way to introduce your children to the people who live there.
WARNING: This book does contain a certain passage parents should review before allowing their children to read it alone. It is in chapter 11, “The Monkey and the Old Lady”, from the end of page 96 through page 97. The passage tells of the horrific death of a baby at the hands of a monkey. The rest of the book is fine.
Listening Level—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 10 – 12, 12 – 15, 15 and Above