Quick Book Review: “Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In” by Phuc Tran

A really excellent memoir and coming of age story by a kid who immigrated to America in 1975 during the fall of Saigon, ending up in the small town of Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  As he struggles to fit in, he finds comfort and identity in music (particularly punk rock) and in literature, allowing him to navigate the feelings of isolation, the stresses of immigration, the racism (both subtle and overt), and his fraught relationship with his parents (particularly his father).  I related to the author in several areas: I love literature, I love punk music, and I am familiar with the whole Vietnamese family dynamic, as my partner of 21 years, Mark, also immigrated here with his family after the fall of Saigon.  Torn between two cultures, Phuc tries his best to leave his heritage in the past and be seen as an American, and not a symbol of a painful war.  His stories about falling into a close, welcoming crowd of friends in high school, his constant challenges in confronting racism, and his eventual self-acceptance in a world that only wants to see a stereotype were relatable and inspiring.  Funny, sad, poignant, never boring… an excellent book.

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