They Left Us Behind tells the story of a young girl, her family, and their struggle to reach America. Using the actual diary of the family as the basis for her writing, author Cungdiem Tang describes the early cultural life of her grandparents and relatives in the Mekong Delta.
When the country is divided between the Communists and the corrupt regime of the South Vietnamese government, the United States becomes involved, with the war escalating and causing collateral damage to the countryside and its inhabitants. When South Vietnam finally capitulates, the family is directly affected by the Communist victors, losing their home and possessions. Indeed, Cungdiem's mother is forced into an arranged marriage with a South Vietnamese soldier.
Part of the family successfully escapes by boat, and Cungdiem's parents attempt an escape on foot through Cambodia. After their capture and release from a remote prison, they attempt an escape by sea, where they suffer storms and pirates. They spend time in refugee camps in Malaysia and the Philippines, until finally they reach the United States-where the struggles continue with turncoat sponsors and school bullies.
Follow this family history as they struggle and eventually succeed, becoming educated and successful and accepting their new country with patriotic fervor.