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Walk Around the Tree: A Jungle Girl's ''Coming of Age'' in Vietnam and America

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On a moonlit night shining with mystery and wonder, four-year-old Diem Nguyen picks up a sparkling pebble from the ground…and unknowingly takes into her hand the seeds of a catastrophic illness that changes her life forever. Diem’s body is ravaged by polio; but by following the advice of an angel who visits her in a dream, Diem discovers a unique way to walk again. Althoug On a moonlit night shining with mystery and wonder, four-year-old Diem Nguyen picks up a sparkling pebble from the ground…and unknowingly takes into her hand the seeds of a catastrophic illness that changes her life forever. Diem’s body is ravaged by polio; but by following the advice of an angel who visits her in a dream, Diem discovers a unique way to walk again. Although her body is crippled, her remarkable spirit soon transcends the limitations of her body and she finds ways to live joyfully, creatively, lovingly…stepping into her future with a boundless spirit of adventure. You will be spellbound by the vivid tales of her childhood in Vietnam, surviving hardships while her father is in prison for conspiring to support the Americans during the war, and then enjoying natural beauty, friendships, and independence when her family moves to a special community in the jungle, where Diem learns an array of skills from salt-making to music-making that allow her to start a unique business. Diem can’t imagine a better life than the jungle, but everything changes when her father is given special help to bring his family to America. After settling in Texas, new challenges and new opportunities await Diem. With her trademark determination and innovation, Diem learns English and goes to college to earn her degree—without ever having set foot in a school before! Her achievements are enhanced by the transcendent experience of falling in love…but life has some unexpected lessons for Diem that not even a college degree can give to her. Told with tenderness, humor, and honesty, Walk Around the Tree is a memoir that will inspire and delight from the first page to the last. Diem’s indomitable spirit, positive attitude, and love of life shine through every word. Take a walk with Diem, first around her childhood tree, and then further into the depths of the jungle, the vastness of America, and the secrets of the human heart. With Diem as your companion and guide, life will never look quite the same again.


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On a moonlit night shining with mystery and wonder, four-year-old Diem Nguyen picks up a sparkling pebble from the ground…and unknowingly takes into her hand the seeds of a catastrophic illness that changes her life forever. Diem’s body is ravaged by polio; but by following the advice of an angel who visits her in a dream, Diem discovers a unique way to walk again. Althoug On a moonlit night shining with mystery and wonder, four-year-old Diem Nguyen picks up a sparkling pebble from the ground…and unknowingly takes into her hand the seeds of a catastrophic illness that changes her life forever. Diem’s body is ravaged by polio; but by following the advice of an angel who visits her in a dream, Diem discovers a unique way to walk again. Although her body is crippled, her remarkable spirit soon transcends the limitations of her body and she finds ways to live joyfully, creatively, lovingly…stepping into her future with a boundless spirit of adventure. You will be spellbound by the vivid tales of her childhood in Vietnam, surviving hardships while her father is in prison for conspiring to support the Americans during the war, and then enjoying natural beauty, friendships, and independence when her family moves to a special community in the jungle, where Diem learns an array of skills from salt-making to music-making that allow her to start a unique business. Diem can’t imagine a better life than the jungle, but everything changes when her father is given special help to bring his family to America. After settling in Texas, new challenges and new opportunities await Diem. With her trademark determination and innovation, Diem learns English and goes to college to earn her degree—without ever having set foot in a school before! Her achievements are enhanced by the transcendent experience of falling in love…but life has some unexpected lessons for Diem that not even a college degree can give to her. Told with tenderness, humor, and honesty, Walk Around the Tree is a memoir that will inspire and delight from the first page to the last. Diem’s indomitable spirit, positive attitude, and love of life shine through every word. Take a walk with Diem, first around her childhood tree, and then further into the depths of the jungle, the vastness of America, and the secrets of the human heart. With Diem as your companion and guide, life will never look quite the same again.

41 review for Walk Around the Tree: A Jungle Girl's ''Coming of Age'' in Vietnam and America

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paul Strader

    I received a copy of Diem's book from a friend two days ago, when I only had time to read the first few pages. But yesterday I decided to read some more and found I could not put it down until finally finishing the last chapter at 1:30 in the morning. I am so impressed with her as an extremely gifted writer. She took me to a place I knew so little about, and really gave me the flavor of her country and its beauty. I loved reading about how creative she was and how she found joy and happiness in I received a copy of Diem's book from a friend two days ago, when I only had time to read the first few pages. But yesterday I decided to read some more and found I could not put it down until finally finishing the last chapter at 1:30 in the morning. I am so impressed with her as an extremely gifted writer. She took me to a place I knew so little about, and really gave me the flavor of her country and its beauty. I loved reading about how creative she was and how she found joy and happiness in so many aspects of life. She ends her book with a love story that made me happy for her, and then sad when it didn't work out. But even then, she showed real strength in finding ways to move on. I sincerely hope she doesn't stop writing. I would love to know more about Vietnam and its people. Whether she writes fiction or non-fiction, her style of writing will show the truth about her amazing country. And she has already shared so much of it -- and of herself -- in this wonderful gift to the world.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Kearns

    I received a free copy of Walk Around The Tree from the author, in return for reviewing the book for her. This book is a quick but interesting read, full of stories of the author's childhood in Vietnam and her eventual immigration to the USA. I enjoyed her vivid descriptions of the animals, flowers and trees found in the jungles of her homeland, and also her explanations of the culture, food and building practices. Despite a crippling bout of polio when she was small, Diem's determination to work I received a free copy of Walk Around The Tree from the author, in return for reviewing the book for her. This book is a quick but interesting read, full of stories of the author's childhood in Vietnam and her eventual immigration to the USA. I enjoyed her vivid descriptions of the animals, flowers and trees found in the jungles of her homeland, and also her explanations of the culture, food and building practices. Despite a crippling bout of polio when she was small, Diem's determination to work hard, learn, find love, and enjoy life never wavers. Diem's writing style is very simple and honest, bringing to life the child in the story. Adults will enjoy this story from a historical perspective, and tweens will learn about endurance and duty and about the realities of the Vietnam war - something that isn't taught in school anymore.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Fox

    Disclaimer: I won a free copy through Goodreads First Reads. Simple, coming of age memoir written from a child's perspective. Diem's determination is inspirational. Does Diem ever find a mate and lasting love? Diem does work hard overcoming obstacles. Though she never went to school, she graduates Tarrant County College with Honors

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sarah-Hope

    This book is an interesting, quick read by a woman who has lived a remarkable life. I would enjoy reading more of her work.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Laura Horgan

    An ok book

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sankar Singh

  7. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

  8. 4 out of 5

    George Wilkins

  9. 4 out of 5

    Casey Dorman

  10. 4 out of 5

    Diem Nguyen

  11. 4 out of 5

    Becky

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jodie Crowe

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Ann

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shelley

  16. 5 out of 5

    Betsy Hover

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Gates

  18. 4 out of 5

    Anastasia Cannon

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Nevarez

  21. 5 out of 5

    Barry

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tamara Anderson

  23. 5 out of 5

    Pam

  24. 5 out of 5

    Teresa Lavender

  25. 5 out of 5

    Antane

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

  27. 5 out of 5

    Darlene Howard

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joyce

  29. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  30. 4 out of 5

    Arwen S

  31. 4 out of 5

    Brianna

  32. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer beck

  33. 5 out of 5

    Mrspam4ever

  34. 5 out of 5

    Sue

  35. 4 out of 5

    Jeni

  36. 5 out of 5

    Desiree

  37. 4 out of 5

    Kim Coomey

  38. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Hamm

  39. 4 out of 5

    Beth

  40. 4 out of 5

    Kelly W

  41. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

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