Catching Shrimp with Bare Hands: A Boy from the Mekong Delta

ViewPort Publishing
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Catching Shrimp with Bare Hands is the true story of Luong La, a boy growing up in the Mekong Delta in the midst of the Vietnam War. When the 1968 Tet Offensive forces Luong's family to flee the countryside, they continue to travel back and forth to their island farm despite threats from the Viet Cong and nearby firefights.

Out on their farm in the middle of the Mekong River, Luong wants to catch fish and slingshot birds, but Viet Cong, called mysterious misters by the villagers, stop by his family's hut and stay. "The frog dies because of its big mouth," his mother warns. The mysterious misters behead a neighbor, and Luong's aunt goes missing.

Luong plans to join the Army as soon as he's old enough to fight, but the war ends before he has a chance. Communism descends, pulling him back in time to a land without electricity or fuel where his family has to hide the books that haven't already been burned. Propaganda that "kneads their skulls," neighbors spying on each other, and the threat of starvation drive Luong to escalating acts of defiance. About to get caught by the authorities, he drops out of school to help his family build a boat to escape.
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About the author

Michelle Robin La’s fascination with her husband’s stories inspired her to write this memoir of his childhood in Vietnam. Michelle and Luong live in Santa Barbara, California with their three children. michellerobinla.com 

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Additional Information

Publisher
ViewPort Publishing
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Published on
Jan 30, 2015
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Pages
500
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ISBN
9780990917786
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Cultural Heritage
Biography & Autobiography / Historical
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
History / Asia / Southeast Asia
History / Military / Vietnam War
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Repackaged in a new tie-in edition to coincide with the Netflix film produced and directed by Angelina Jolie, a moving story of war crimes and desperate actions, the unnerving strength of a small girl and her triumphant spirit as she survived the Cambodian genocide under Pol Pot’s brutal regime.

Until the age of five, Loung Ung lived in Phnom Penh, one of seven children of a high-ranking government official. She was a precocious child who loved the open city markets, fried crickets, chicken fights, and sassing her parents. While her beautiful mother worried that Loung was a troublemaker—that she stomped around like a thirsty cow—her beloved father knew Loung was a clever girl.

When Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army stormed into Phnom Penh in April 1975, Ung’s family fled their home and moved from village to village to hide their identity, their education, their former life of privilege. Eventually, the family dispersed in order to survive. Loung trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans, while other siblings were sent to labor camps. As the Vietnamese penetrated Cambodia, destroying the Khmer Rouge, Loung and her surviving siblings were slowly reunited.

Bolstered by the shocking bravery of one brother, the courage and sacrifices of the rest of her family—and sustained by her sister’s gentle kindness amid brutality—Loung forged on to create for herself a courageous new life. Harrowing yet hopeful, insightful and compelling, this story is truly unforgettable.

 

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