The Land I Lost by Huynh Quang Nhuong: A Book Review

I’ve been using Sonlight and BookShark for Bookworm off and on for the entire time that we’ve homeschooled.  (We’re now in our 4th year.)  Though some books had controversial topics, I trusted Sonlight and BookShark’s judgement.

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So, when I flipped through the teacher’s notes and saw a warning to parents that The Land I Lost by Huynh Quang Nhuong contained some material that may make readers uncomfortable, including violence, I wasn’t too worried.  After all, the many, many books that we had read in the past as part of the curriculum had been fine.  Those books had even sparked some good conversation.

But, having completed the book, I have to say that the warning was completely necessary and should, in fact, be stronger.  When I teach BookShark’s Level 5, the Eastern Hemisphere, with the girls in a few years, we will definitely be skipping this book.

About The Land I Lost

The Land I Lost is one young boy’s story of life in Vietnam before the Vietnam war.  While it is a novel, it actually reads like a series of short stories as none of the chapters are really connected or linked.

There IS violence in this book, a lot of violence.  I was okay with reading it at first, thinking it would eventually lead to a bigger story, but it never did.  The violence just was there as violence.  In this world, men are killed by alligators when they cross the river, they’re killed by snakes hiding in the inside of a tree, they’re killed by wild boars.

However, the animals aren’t always victors.  Village residents routinely drug the local animals with opium until they’re addicted and will do what the humans want.  One man made a monkey addicted to opium so he would go up in the mountains every day and pick tea leaves for him.

In the end, we finished this book because by the time we realized there was not going to be a greater story going on, we were almost done with the book.

This story is targeted for ages 7 to 10, which I find really ridiculous.  For the level of violence, I’d recommend this at least for the middle school set, though honestly, I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone.

I give this 2 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.


  1. I totally agree with you. My son is entering 8th grade and was given this assignment as part of his summer reading. I read the book first and could not fathom why his Catholic school ELA teacher would assign this. He is kindhearted to animals and I do not think he will digest certain parts well especially when it has to do with drugging them or reading how some of them die. It is an easy read but not a story – more of short stories that do not connect in any way.

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