Anh Do the Happiest RefugeeAnh Do nearly didn’t make it to Australia.

 His entire family came close to losing their lives on the sea as they escaped from war-torn Vietnam in an overcrowded boat. But nothing – not murderous pirates, nor the imminent threat of death by hunger, disease or dehydration as they drifted for days – could quench their desire to make a better life in the country they had dreamed about.

 The Happiest Refugee tells the incredible, uplifting and inspiring life story of one of our favourite personalities. Tragedy, humour, heartache and unswerving determination – a big life with big dreams.

Anh’s story will move and amuse all who read it.

What a great book to start the year with! Anh Do’s infectious optimism throughout this memoir put us all at our happiest. We loved his positive nature and willingness to see the funny side of such an extraordinary life. The honesty in which he portrayed his family’s early days in their new country was a delight and we all felt anyone who had reservations about refugees would do well to read this book. In fact, some of us believe you wouldn’t be human if you were not moved by Do’s story. Some believe it was mostly a testament to his mother and father and we all found ourselves very interested in the whole Do clan. Cathy would have liked to hear more about Anh’s sister, and everyone found favour with his father’s philosophical view of time – ‘There are only two types of time … now and too late.’

 The many tales, both humorous and heartbreaking, gave the book balance and Ann felt the book well written/edited with the tragic being offset by humour in just the right measure. Anh’s comedic talent definitely shines through in his writing …

we all had our favourites, such as the fish tanks, the old combie breakdown, the RSL gig and his mother’s roast pig dinner, so our discussion was mostly on the merry side recalling each of these anecdotes.

However, we did touch on some of the more serious aspects, such as the upheaval refugees and immigrants experience, how it effects childhood and of course the racism. We all wondered if the xenophobic traits that seem so focused on refugees today has always been there and what will it take to create a more welcoming and accepting Australia. All very important questions that Anh’s story was never meant to answer, but in our view certainly generated an essential conversation.

In closing, it is fair to say that we all got something from this book. Do’s conversational, light-hearted patter made this vital story a pure pleasure to read.

Do yourself a favour and pick it up soon!

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