Tatiana Froes, LLM. Reader and Blogger at Realtactics4disabilityclaims. "TigerFish is a story of love, fear, and sacrifice in the name of family. Hoàng Chi takes you to her upbringing as the daughter of a Vietnamese Army Colonel and into the day to day activities of a young lady during war time. Her descriptions of the streets and landscape are so detailed that you see yourself in the story and the middle of the action.
When the Vietnam war hits close to home, you can feel the danger and heartbreak Hoàng Chi and her family faced, including the difficult choice to leave their beloved country behind and move to the United States as refugees.
Life as a refugee was tough but Hoàng Chi’s fighting spirit never gave up, and she now graces us with her story in this fascinating book. "
Michael Chrobak - Author. "I'm not one to read autobiographies or memoirs, but I am sincerely glad that I chose to read this one. Not only is this an amazingly well written 'coming of age' story, but it also provides, with excellent descriptive style, the challenges faced transitioning from the more strict, disciplined and tradition-based Vietnamese culture, to the free-flowing, opportunistic and ego-driven American culture. All during the tender, vulnerable, teenage years that are hard enough without these additional challenges.
My praise to the author, both for surviving this turbulent and challenging time in her life, and for having the courage to tell it with passion, confidence, and respect."
Tad Ballew, Ph.D. Cultural Anthropologist-Translator: "TigerFish is a wonderfully engaging, brave, and deeply personal story of a young girl’s childhood in wartime Vietnam, the refugee experience, culture clash, and the power of true love. Hoàng Chi Trương wants her story to benefit not only her children and larger family, but also the growing number of refugees in the world today. She hopes her experience can help humanize the dislocated, those compelled by war or want to leave their homelands with no promise of return. It is a very timely tale. Trương shows that a key in meeting the challenges facing refugees, and the challenges of negotiating cultural difference more broadly, is simple mutual respect, seeing humanity in otherness. Or, as she advises her daughter, treating people with compassion and love. Indeed, Trương’s extraordinary life and story are a testament to the power of compassion and love. What the world needs now."
Brydie Wright - Author.“Many parts of the world are suffering a refugee crisis as we speak and it is easy to forget that waves of forced emigration have been happening for years and even centuries, most predominantly in times of war. Trương reminds us of the struggles faced by Southern Vietnamese families who were forced to flee death or imprisonment after the fall of Saigon, as the Vietnam war came to a close in 1975. Her memoir, Tigerfish, is a fascinating tale of what it was like for Trương and her large family, to adjust from their privileged life in their home country to refugee status in America, starting all over again. The story of the family's assimilation told through the innocent eyes of the young 'Chi,' is an endearing one. No doubt it will resonate with many who have faced similar circumstances, out of their control, and survived to share their experiences.”
Becky McCleery, a reader: “I found TigerFish to be fascinating! I loved how Trương was able to share her story in a way that was both moving and relatable, bringing together some of the horrors of war and the refugee experience, with humor and wonder in her coming-of-age story. Though originally written for her children, I believe Trương’s story is especially poignant at this time. Too often, it’s easy to label those of another skin color, country, or religion as “other.” In sharing her story, Trương gives us a powerful reminder that beyond the labels, refugees and immigrants are human beings, just like us. Through this inspiring account of her experience as a refugee and building a new life in America, Trương thoughtfully reminds us that we (all of humanity) have so much in common if we will only have the courage and compassion to reach out and connect.”
Wildmind Creatives Author Interview: "Hoàng Chi Trương began writing her memoir TigerFish, for her young daughter, to chronicle the family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam to the United States, their diaspora and acculturation process. Along the way, her story has become a form of advocacy, giving a voice to the marginal refugee communities within society."
Phyllis Banks, a reader: “TigerFish is a detailed and heartfelt love letter to her children. As a Vietnamese refugee in the mid-1970’s, Trương chronicles her strict but delightful childhood experiences. She recalls her life through the raw terror from fleeing her homeland to the trauma of being repatri- ated in the United States.
Not only does this book feature her life, but it captures the sights, smells, fears and cries of innocence robbed. Trương shares historical and cultural details, allowing the reader to travel back in time. TigerFish gives shocking, yet poignant details of how each family member survived the horrors of war. She was able to illustrate sympathy, empathy, fear, and love – not just for her family, but for everyone she met along the way.
TigerFish invited me to question my beliefs about war, history, religion, culture clashes and loyalty. Trương’s experiences allowed her the ability to save a place in her heart for her one true love, and from this love, her children can understand and know her. TigerFish is the genesis of their identity. It teaches them how to navigate the ebb and flows of the life and gives birth to a generational foothold into a legacy that will continue to blossom with time. Sacrifice, respect, commitment, unconditional love, and honesty are woven
throughout this book. Trương leaves no stone unturned as she pours out her heart and soul to connect her words to the reader.
Everyone can benefit from reading this book. You cannot remain unchanged as you partake in her journey. Many people refuse to leave the past. TigerFish shares the past and reveals the present. It allows us to use tragedies as springboards to the future. The book makes it possible to discover our own ‘TigerFish,’ and it has encour- aged me to feel pain, move on, never forget and to continue to love.”
Denise Gildon, a reader: “Trương has written a wonderful story, emotional at times, and I shed tears as she shared her family’s experiences leaving their beloved homeland to escape the war and make America their new home. It wasn’t easy, and Trương and her family are remarkable in how they stayed together, persisted through many trials and eventually thrived!
The author’s descriptive phrases discussing the bakery and the pastry her father bought made my mouth water and piqued my sense of smell. I could almost see the “soft wrinkles from a lifelong kindness” used to describe a relative. I hope there is a sequel to TigerFish.
TigerFish made me think and see the Vietnam war from a different perspective. I thank Trương for sharing with us this treasure she’s written for her daughter.”
Twenty-four years ago, I started writing my memoir with the sole purpose of passing down my family history to my daughter (and son who was born a year later), to tell how vastly different my life had been compared to the lives they were living. I wanted them to know how I survived the Vietnam war and successfully fled the communists at the fall of Vietnam in 1975, my ensuing journey in acculturation and assimilation in America, and how I eventually met their father.
It is a story that must be told, a story that's been tugging at my heart, my soul, and all the fibers of my body. It's not a "want" to tell this story, but a need and a must-do life's goal of mine.
As time progresses and the political situation has changed with the Syrian refugee crises, this has given me another compelling reason to publish my story now, in order to raise awareness of the refugee experience.
No refugee chooses to be a refugee. We do not choose to upset our lives, ripping out our hearts and souls, leaving all that we knew and loved for the unknown. Rather, we do what we must do for our survival and the survival of our children, because it is a basic human need and drive to perpetuate our family's heritage and legacy.
Today, I'm sad to see the refugee crisis playing out repeatedly all over the world, and strongly believe that not only is it necessary to share my narratives, but it's unequivocally my obligation to pass it on as part of this country's oral history.
My life came full circle and I served for three years at the California Office of Emergency Services as the GIS Chief, leading and providing real-time online maps for response and recovery of disasters, manmade or natural. I served the demographics of the misplaced, the needy, and the distressed, who were refugees of disasters, whether they fled their home from fires, earthquake, or flood.
In sharing my story, my ultimate message is of compassion, love, and understanding through learning what it means to be a refugee.
I invite you to join me in creating a kinder, more compassionate world, by signing up to read two free chapters of TigerFish and engaging in the conversation.
With heartfelt gratitude!
Author Event at BluMoon Books & Media in Sacramento on June 3, 2017
As GIS Chief at the California Office of Emergency Services