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Anh Do nearly didn’t make it to Australia. His entire family came close to losing their lives on the sea as they escaped from war-torn Vietnam in an overcrowded boat. But nothing – not murderous pirates, nor the imminent threat of death by hunger, disease or dehydration as they drifted for days – could quench their desire to make a better life in a country where freedom existed.

Life in Australia was hard, an endless succession of back-breaking work, crowded rooms, ruthless landlords and make-do everything. But there was a loving extended family, and always friends and play and something to laugh about for Anh, his brother Khoa and their sister Tram. Things got harder when their father left home when Anh was thirteen – they felt his loss very deeply and their mother struggled to support the family on her own. His mother’s sacrifice was an inspiration to Anh and he worked hard during his teenage years to help her make ends meet, also managing to graduate high school and then university.

Another inspiration was the comedian Anh met when he was about to sign on for a 60-hour a week corporate job. Anh asked how many hours he worked. ‘Four,’ the answer came back, and that was it. He was going to be a comedian!

Allen & Unwin


Comments on: "The happiest refugee – Anh Do" (10)

  1. Cindy said:


    I love this book, because it reminds me of the risks my parents took to live in Australia, yup my parents were also refugee’s from Vietnam. But i love this book, its a journey of a young boy sharing his journey with his family and the experiences he faces when living in Australia. My favourite part is when they arrived in Australia and his brother Khoa was put into a dress, and lot’s of people said “What a pretty little girl!”. My favourite character is obviously the main character which is Anh, he is a strong boy trying to improve at school and growing successful in life. I can relate to Anh’s family, even though i wasn’t on the terrifying boat like his family and my parents, but the stories my parents tell me make it seem real but this book, was beyond the words my parents told me. My least favourite part is when Khoa was being dangled over the boat by a pirate, because of the hidden gold in his nappy, i just didn’t like how the pirates would treat a innocent child like that! If i could change something in this book i would’ve liked to change when they found out there was a robbery of their sewing machines taken from the shed, their mother cried so much it was truely sad, but Anh was her hope to be happy. I recommend this book to 13 and over, it’s an amazing book filled with adventures and risks that many refugee’s take for a better home. Anyone can read this book, its the right book if you like to feel or read other people’s experiences like the book ‘Arrival’. I give it a 9/10!!!


  2. I absolutely love this book which is full of humour, tragedy, realism and, of course, a happy beginning. Anh Do is a comedian who travelled to Australia at the age of two via a refugee boat from Vietnam. This memoir tells the story of his family and his experiences growing up as an Asian-Australian. It is so easy to read, and Do’s narrative captured me from the first page…and I kept going and going. He has a very real and relatable voice. I would rate this book a 8.5/10 and would recommend it to anyone and everyone.


  3. I loved this book although it was sad it was so inspirational and really gave me a kick to do something with my life considering Anh Do has made it from the very bottom to the very top. It’s amazing how from going through such a hard and dark childhood and adolescence that he is now a very popular comedian and is very well known all around. Anh is a very inspiring person and anyone who reads it would be encouraged to leave a mark in there life.
    I rate this book a 9/10


  4. This is a very inspirational book. This book left me in tears, of happiness and of sadness, but also left me in suspense. Anh Do’s life biography is a very inspirational story to anyone who needs some encouragement towards life. This book shows how many people can be strong and can withstand the hardships of life. This is also a book of hope, displayed through how tough life can be when your poor and seeking refuge, but if your hopeful and responsible you can change your life, to make it better and to bring your children up in a more safer environment also providing them with a great education. My favourite character in this book is Anh’s mother, as she is the strongest character in this book. I love how she never is always persistent, and never lets go of hope, even in the toughest of times. She chose to bring her family up in a brighter environment, working hard to pay for the best education she could afford, and this payed off as Anh is a successful comedian, and has starred on many tv shows.
    I rate this book a 10+


  5. Stephanie said:

    I loved this book! It was on of the only books he’ll read of mine! I first wanted to read this book when I read the picture book of this story. It is well written and so funny, it’s not like I biography that just drags on and on…. After my father and I read this book “Anh Do In Vietnam” pops up. It was SOOO funny!


  6. This book is amazing and so inspiring how much Anh Do has gone though to be very famous as a comedian.


  7. Phoebe said:

    this book is so amazing it is so inspiring how ahn’s hardships into a comedy like book. The book is so interesting and really gives you a close up perspective into what his journey was really like. It mainly appealed to me because last year after studying refugees we had only discussed what it was like from the Aussie point of view but when reading this you really got a feel for both. I recommend this book for any ages as long as you are a decent reader because it is so inspiring and good !! I rate it an 8/10 🙂


  8. Grace said:

    I read this book after seeing many rave reviews, and being a fan on Ahn for his comedy skits. Although it is not the most well written book I have read the story incredible and moving. It is a fantastic insight into his life, and the life of many refugees.
    Ahn’s personal and comical touches to the story are my favourite. The book has a great balance of comedy and heartfelt moments, meaning it is not too heavy.
    This book has some great lessons for life and makes you very grateful for the little things.
    Although Ahn’s story is worlds away from anything I have experienced, the way it is written allows you to become part of his story, and gives you a greater understanding.
    I would recommend this book to others, especially those over the age of 14, as I believe they would have a greater understanding.


  9. I recommend the book the Happiest Refugee because it is a great book with some sad memories of the past. You can really get to know Anh Do and travel through is life through the book. It is very informative but then very funny!. It is a great comedy novel filled with extraordinary true stories. I believe any one over the age of 12 would love this book.


  10. The Happiest Refugee:

    I absolutely love this book. I couldn’t put it down. I read it all in one day. My favorite character was Anh because I loved how he wouldn’t stop to get to Susy and it was really cute and he is so damn funny. I can’t relate to any character in this book because everyone is different in their own special way. There was absolutely no bad parts in this book because its all amazing also I wouldn’t change anything about this book because its all good and funny. The right person for this book, is someone who has a really good sense of humour and loves to laugh at everything. THIS BOOK IS AWESOME, EITHER GO BUY IT OR BORROW IT YOU WILL LOVE IT AND THANK ME FOR IT!!


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