Aloha Vietnam by Elizabeth Nguyen

Aloha Vietnam is a new book by Elizabeth Nguyen. It was published by The Unbound Press in December 2022.

A rich journey across the Pacific Ocean to find one’s true home and identity amidst loss, grief, and mental illness.

Anh Nguyen is 17 years old and a senior in high school working on a watercolor art series when she experiences her first manic episode. She is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, put on medications, and she and her Vietnamese-American family are suddenly thrown into the world of mental health treatment and recovery.

Anh’s mother Xuan grapples with understanding her daughter’s struggles, while also trying to make sense of her own loss and grief of leaving behind her family and motherland of Vietnam to raise her children in America. The family find refuge across the Pacific Ocean on the warm shores of Honolulu, Hawaii, Anh navigates growing up in a refugee family in a new land and culture, and dealing with the struggles of her own mind. She finds solace in her love for the ocean and her art.

This is the story of finding one’s identity and place of belonging in a shifting landscape of tradition, heritage, and culture, and the healing power of art, water, and love. 

What Readers Are Saying:

“Powered by story and strengthened by science, Dr. Elizabeth Nguyen, like Lisa Genova before her, has penned a gripping story of one family’s journey through the heartbreak of mental illness. A beautifully written coming-of-age story that details the highs and lows of bi-polar disorder, against the cross-cultural grace and beauty of two Pacific locations – Vietnam and Hawaii. A poignant and moving novel.” – R. Bruce Logan & Elaine Head, authors of Back to Vietnam: Tours of the Heart

“As an Asian American child and adolescent psychiatrist, I highly recommend Aloha Vietnam not only for its sensitive portrayal of illness, but also for its moving depiction of an immigrant’s experience.” – Dr. Harry Wang, MD, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

Edge of your seat fixed reading: as soon as I settled with Aloha Vietnam I was hooked on the raw emotion pouring deep from within the words. Elizabeth’s passion for her cultural roots bursts throughout this poignant encounter of a family both found and lost within their new experiences. I loved it.” – Natalie Farrell Artist. Presenter. Writer + Author of “Light The Way”

“At the heart of the story is the mother-daughter relationship told through the backdrop of the emotions of a lost culture, the grief of which can be tasted through the pages.” – Victoria Smisek, author of “Falling Awake – A Heroine’s Journey”

“This enchanting book is a potent mix of loss, strength, love, and healing.” – Deborah DLP Writer Beautifully Unfinished Woman

About the Author:

Elizabeth Nguyen, MD was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her parents were refugees from Vietnam who arrived in Honolulu in 1975 at the end of the Vietnam War.

She received her BA from Stanford University in Human Biology, her MD from Northwestern University, and her Psychiatry Residency and Child Psychiatry Fellowship training at UC Davis. She started her career in community mental health, with specific interests in cross-cultural psychiatry, the intersection of spirituality and mental health, and the healing power of water and the natural world.

Of the inspiration behind and the intention for Aloha Vietnam, Elizabeth says: “There is so much trauma and healing in the human ancestral lineages, and water, art, and storytelling help us in becoming whole and natural again. This book is my love offering to the land and the people of Vietnam and Hawaii, and the vast Pacific Ocean that connects them. It is my hope that it provides beauty and healing to the trauma and suffering that has come through generations of loss and the struggles of mental illness.” You can find her online at: and