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Noodle Pie    by Ruth Starke order for
Noodle Pie
by Ruth Starke
Order:  USA  Can
Kane Miller, 2010 (2010)
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Can you imagine what it would be like to never see your grandparents, aunts and uncles or other relatives until you were eleven years old? Or better still, imagine what it would be like to travel from your nice, comfortable home to a Third World country where all these people lived. Talk about culture shock!

My name is Andy Nguyen and that's exactly what happened to me when I accompanied my father on a trip from our Australian home to visit his family in Vietnam. Dad had not seen his parents in Hanoi since he fled the country years before I was even born.

Let me tell you, this was an eye-opening trip for me and, in some ways, for my dad too. Although we are not a wealthy family, my dad acted like he was a very well-to-do, successful businessman and he was handing out gifts and money to all the relatives. Eventually, during our visit, he explained that this was expected of him because he was a Viet Kieu, the name given to those who were born in Vientam but now lived in other countries.

My story is not just about what I saw when we visited my father's homeland but also how I got on with my relatives, especially one of my cousins named Minh. She had low status in the family because her mother was divorced and lived in another city. Minh was about my age and wanted to run away from my grandparents' house (which also happened to be the family restaurant) and join her mother in Saigon.

Minh and I hatched a scheme to not only bring more tourists to the family restaurant but also enable her to earn a little money so she could go see her mom. Although it was a pretty good idea, our plan took the family by surprise and changed more than just how many customers enjoyed the food the small eatery offered.

I won't go into the details, but I think once you begin reading about my trip to Vietnam you'll really enjoy hearing about my experiences. You'll also get a sense of what it is like for someone to have to flee his birthplace, as my dad did, and leave his entire family behind. Trust me, this was a very memorable family reunion!

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