Book-In-Focus: The Dragon Fruit Orchard by Ngan Ha
It's moving, truthful and refreshing to read.
— G. Canahan,The BookWalker
The Dragon Fruit Orchard is the remarkable story of one woman and her fierce determination to conquer life’s challenges.
Author Ngan Ha begins her memoir with the 2006 grand reunion of her medical class at the Marriott Hotel in Anaheim, California. Former classmates flew in from different parts of the world for the event, and she would be meeting most of them for the first time after fleeing Vietnam in 1975. To say she was excited would be an understatement. At the same, she couldn’t help the little knot at the bottom of her stomach. Would she find acceptance or welcome at the event, or would her classmates recognize or remember her at all?
Change, of course, had made different faces and different people out of every one of them. Save for their voices that were as they could recall, everything else was different—looks, demeanor, status, outlook. Everyone got their chance to catch up and compress forty plus years of stories in one gathering (and perhaps several subsequent get-togethers, emails, or phone calls after). For Ngan Ha, the reunion brought to life memories of Vietnam before the communist North attacked the South, which consequently led to her immigration to the US in 1975.
As a young Vietnamese girl, the author grew up in a traditional household where she was expected to act with decorum at all times and where, unreasonably, her father limited her social life and controlled what little she was allowed to have. In 1966, Ngan Ha started her pre-med year at Saigon University, where she met the classmates who were at the 2006 reunion.
Ngan Ha speaks of her isolation due to her father’s rigid rules, the suicide of her closest friend after losing her boyfriend to the war, and her hordes of admirer but zero love interest. Finally, the author speaks about life in America as a young immigrant doctor with little English and only a hundred dollars to her name.
Success and happiness did not come at no cost to the author. How does one find oneself in a land so foreign and so far from home? There were times Ngan Ha doubted herself and times when she feared for her future, but she wasn’t about to let go of the opportunities in America because of her doubt and her fear. She worked as hard as she could. Whatever was demanded of her, she was more than willing to meet in full force.
The second part of The Dragon Fruit Orchard is about a new set of challenges for the author. Now relatively successful, Ngan Ha bravely faced single motherhood, a stigma in Vietnamese culture, and fought all obstacles to adopt a Vietnamese baby and bring her into the US. Alone, she managed to raise the child as her own and still fulfill the demands of a promising career—proof that where there is passion and dedication, there is always a sweet, sweet reward in the end.
Reviews and What Readers Say
" It's moving, truthful and refreshing to read. "
—G Canahan,The BookWalker
Review by Juliette Edwards
Disclosure: This article is a personal endorsement of the professional reviewer. The BookWalker is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
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Ngan Ha is a physician who practices in California. She immigrated to the US in 1975 from Vietnam after the war. She lives with her daughter in Orange County, California. Previous publication: "Contribution to the Study of the Self-destructive Patients" doctoral thesis, Saigon University, Vietnam, 1974.