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Booked for the Day

Sigh Gone: A Misfit's Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In, by Phuc Tran

Our group was touched by and really enjoyed reading Sigh Gone, a non-fiction memoir that takes the reader on the author’s journey from being a toddler new to America, to trying to fit in as a pre-teen and teenager, and how education and reading helped him to become adjusted to his new life in the United States as well as in becoming a high school teacher and a tattoo artist.

Our group noted a point of enjoyment as the book progressed to the reader knowing where the author was when he began his journey and where he is currently, with his comments at the end of the book about being a parent to two daughters and how reading literature and using music guided him through many tough patches in his life. In his references to Malcom X., he also pointed out questions on what is racism and how to deal with it, especially since he was bullied often for being an Asian child.

Phuc seemed to identify, as a member of a punk rock band of “misfits”, with the characters in the books he gravitated to in which they were also portrayed somewhat as “misfits” and how he could re-frame those messages of racism into a positive situation to help others. In his book, Phuc used high level vocabulary, and he was lucky to achieve what he did given his life circumstances.

The focus on immigrants fitting into the U.S. society was a positive factor, especially as the author’s writing showed how a person grows and who influences that growth. One member pointed out that Phuc had teachers as mentors and that she also in her country encountered teachers who were instrumental in helping her achieve her education and assisted her with overcoming being discriminated against at times.

This book creates more of an awareness as one gets older and can identify with the main character, the author, in his book. The writing showed how he viewed a situation when he was a child and how his perspectives may have changed when he became an adult.

There was sharing of personal stories regarding this book including one member noting that her church adopted a Vietnamese family of two parents and five young children. This event during her early years touched her to move into an education of the Asian culture, Members also discussed the benefits of listening to the audiobook version of this book and also to the author’s Ted talks to understand how he framed his memoir to bring out his story that also is the story of many other immigrants. Members also noted sadness and difficulties with reading about the author’s beatings as a young child by his Father who would become very angry when something was amiss with Phuc.

Our group rated Sigh Gone as the highest median rating of 5 for how much they enjoyed this book and also gave the rating of 4 for how willing they are to recommend this book to others. The themes selected for this book are Books, Coming of Age, Culture, Family, Friendship, Heritage, Relationships, and Racism.

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