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Reviewed by Manik Chaturmutha for Readers' Favorite
Undeterred: How One Determined Vietnamese Orphan Carved Out a Place for Himself in America by Bruce Carlin is a biographical survival story of a boy who runs away from a precarious situation to survive and thrive. Long is stuck in Vietnam during the worst of the Vietnam War. He must decide whether to stay in his war-torn country or escape to the United States. He flees to America, but it wasn’t easy after that. Long has to fight many wars alone to be able to belong in a new country. He spends a tough childhood in various foster homes, never really finding a family who could make him one of their own. As time passes, he works at odd jobs to make a living, but an interest in reading financial magazines provides an opportunity to prosper. What does it take for Long to reach the peak of success from such painful beginnings?
From the outset, Bruce Carlin makes the atmosphere of a conflict-ridden Vietnam authentic and pulse-quickening. One wants to see Long escape this hell, but it becomes almost impossible. The overarching theme of the book is survival and how Long makes it out of one tight spot after the other. His experiences are conveyed in a straightforward and impactful manner, making one’s heart go out to him. The foster system in America, which can be a painful journey for many, is explored in detail. Every time one thinks Long has found a home, it turns out that he hasn’t. The story does require resilience on the part of the reader, but respite is provided when Long's life starts improving. The movement from difficulty to success is gradual but exciting. The story demonstrates that it is possible for anyone, anywhere, to be able to turn their life around through perseverance and unshakeable faith. Readers who enjoy biographies, survival, or success stories, especially with a political background, will enjoy Undeterred.