I did not miss the boat

Lea Tran, a Chinese woman with Onamia roots, will be sharing her story during a book signing and presentation at the Onamia Depot Library on July 31 at 2 p.m. Tran was young when her family was sponsored by Bethany Lutheran Church over 40 years ago and along with her family, lived in the area for a short time experiencing the acceptance of the town.

Her story, “I Did Not Miss the Boat,” is the coming of age story of an adolescent girl who struggled to help her family’s assimilation into a new country while searching for her own identity. From surviving the vast South China seas, pirate raids and uninhabited Indonesian islands to surviving high school and family life, Lea Tran did not experience a typical American upbringing, according to the description on her book’s website.

Tran describes a time when the communists took over Saigon, and her family’s world had turned upside down. Together with five hundred others, she and her family left everything they knew in hopes of a better future as “boat people,” part of the mass exodus of refugees from post-war Vietnam.

Being Hoa, a Chinese minority in Vietnam, meant that she had shallow roots in both Chinese and Vietnamese traditions. She says that in coming to America, she and her family grappled with holding onto their heritage, while embracing the new Western culture. Her memoir speaks to the experience of first-generation immigrants and refugees, and what it was like to rebuild their lives in a foreign land.

The book can be found online at:

The book presentation and signing will be held at the Onamia Depot Library on July 31 and is free and open to the public.

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