Cover Image: Spirit of a Hummingbird

Spirit of a Hummingbird

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Member Reviews

This is the story of a Felicia, the daughter of Vietnamese and Chinese immigrants and her life growing up as the daughter of a notorious Vietnamese Mafia boss who was constantly on the run from authorities. He was in and out of Felicia’s life, often leaving her and her mother living in poverty while he was away, or at the abusive hands of his family members. It was an awful life to grow up in, and it was quite fascinating, yet heartbreaking, to hear a first hand account of the life of a child of a crime boss. 

This was a very quick listen on audio, and Felicia narrates it herself. Now, an author of a memoir really owes the reader nothing, but I did struggle with the pacing and depth of this book. The beginning starts out strong, focusing much on her childhood, but then we jump ahead many years to when Felicia is in medical school and her father calls her to let her know he will be released from prison soon. This part of the story, of Felicia’s life, was told quickly, ended the book abruptly, and left me with many questions and wanting to know more. To be fair, the book does say “memories from childhood”, so maybe that’s on me for wanting the full story and not just memories. And maybe Felicia has her reasons for being vague and quick in her more recent years…protecting her family, herself perhaps?

All in all, I’m not sorry I listened to it since it was quick. Big thanks to Netgalley for the advanced audio copy for review. All thoughts my own.
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This was a wonderfully written and beautifully told memoir about Felicia’s life growing up with a less than stable family. Her dad was a major crime boss and her mom was constantly trying to claw her way out, and Felicia was lost in the cross hairs. The vulnerability she has is so admirable, saying she told her friends and coworkers her past without thought. And at the end, coming to peace with her relationship with her father and her understanding of her siblings unique relationships was such a nice way to end things.
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An interesting premise of voices and lives lived during a tumultuous time in world history. Historical fiction perhaps at its most chauvinistic best.
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I absolutely loved this. Felicia is nothing short of incredible and the amount of healing she’s done in her life to get to the place she is in now is astounding. Definitely would recommend!
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Raw, honest, vulnerable. That's the best way to describe Heath's words. Going on a journey, diving into the cracks of immigration and the forgotten victims of political decisions. 

Young Felicia is forced into parentication at ah early age. Then must untangle the past and present before they destroy the future.

This isn't a light read. I found it hard to put down. I wanted her to succeed. Beware of certain warnings, like violence against women and children. Easy 5 read with the author narrating.

Thanks to the author, publisher, and Netgalley for a review in exchange of an honest review.
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Published:  05/09/23
Narrator:  Felicia Thai Heath

Thank you NetGalley and Greenleaf Audiobooks, River Grove Books for accepting my request to read and review Spirit of a Hummingbird.  

Bright and cheerful cover misleads the content of the book.  The author narrates and does a good job.  If I notice this combo prior to picking up a book, I leave it.  More often than not, I prefer a professional narrator. 

This story is real.  The author was the little girl abused and moved around while her father a Kingpin ran from police and possibly other gangs.  She was the little girl whose father's mistress with their baby showed up to her home as well as her mother's, surprise? Yes, and surprise a man wouldn't keep the lights on or food in the one home and proof he wouldn't in two.  But, she would show him respect.  

This is the Vietnamese culture of screaming I am your parent and for that reason alone you will respect me.  Again, a teaching I just don't understand.  Her life was convoluted.  The day to day necessities were a battle.  

There is profanity 

I would recommend from a sense of tradition and cultural exposure.   From a parental perspective, things not to do.
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Colleen Chi-Girl
GR shelves:  audio; bio-memoir; women centered; strong female; anti-racist/anti-bias; Asian; crime; non-fiction; Massachusetts, US/Canada.

Spirit of a Hummingbird: Memories from a Childhood on the Run
by Felicia Thai Heath
Colleen Chi-Girl's review Jun 19, 2023
4 STARS ****

This heartfelt memoir, Spirit of a Hummingbird, is written by Dr. Felicia Thai Heath. I was gifted this ARC audiobook from NetGalley, the author, and River Grove Books, for my honest review. There is no category for choosing the "audiobook" option for this book on GoodReads, so my post indicates that I read a Kindle ARC.

I frequently began, stopped and started, this memoir due to the content, pain, and reality, that an IRL child/person, Felicia experienced this life as she grew up as the daughter of a Vietnamese Mafia father. She details the abuse to HER family, his wife, her mother, and children, including Felicia and siblings.  As a result, they were often on the run/move between Boston and Canada, experiencing many forms of abuse, including extreme poverty, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.  Since I was simultaneously, but not on purpose, reading another novel, non-fiction, about a dysfunctional family set in Chicago, I needed to alternate between these 2 books, and push myself to finish them both.... not because either was dull, but because both books were emotionally hard and draining, in particular this memoir.

As a female, mom, sister, family member, educational professional, and human being, who loves children, I cannot fathom how Felicity weathered all of her experiences and rose to attend school, including med. school. 
 I highly commend her for turning the table on that kind of life and continual trauma. There are many glasses definitely full for her. Bravo.
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4.25 ⭐️

<i> In Spirit of a Hummingbird, Felicia Thai Heath, the daughter of Vietnamese and Chinese immigrants who met in the United States, gives us a disquieting, eventful memoir based on her early childhood on the run with her father—a notorious Vietnamese kingpin and escaped convict—and her conflicted mother. Clever and mature beyond her age, young Felicia experienced poverty and witnessed abuse as her dysfunctional family bounced around in the United States and Canada. Amid all the tumult and terror, she found ways to love her family, educate herself, navigate her world, and discover her potential. Now she must decide how to live with the past—and whether her future can include her father.

Spirit of a Hummingbird is an uncompromising look at family trauma, betrayal, fear, and helplessness and an inspiring testament to resilience, healing, and forgiveness. </i>

What Felicia endured is hard to fathom,  but she does a great job of explaining and working through all the trauma she endured in her childhood in this enlightening memoir. Clearly she’s doing the work to grow and move on from it all- and providing some perspective for the rest of us along the way.

I listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by the author herself- and you wouldn’t know she isn’t a professional narrator by the skillful and engaging job she does.

Thank you to author/ narrator Felicia Thai Heath, NetGalley, and Greenleaf Audiobooks for providing this ALC for review consideration. All opinions expressed are my own.
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Spirit of a Hummingbird is the story of Felicia Thai, and the childhood that resulted from a father who was on the run, and a mother who was disadvantaged from the start. It's a compelling story, and an important one for folks to hear.

The book was captivating, and kept me focused on the story throughout, though I felt myself regularly wishing that more was being said, or perhaps more details were given. Of course, the author owes us nothing, but it felt like it teetered on the edge of feeling secretive still for a memoir situation. I'm unsure if there were other aspects at play, but I can't help but wonder what became of some of the other situations that went down.

All in, I'm glad I spent time with the book, and I'm very happy to hear that she didn't feel the need to stay connected to anyone due to blood alone, and has chosen to put herself and her family first.

Thank you NetGalley and River Grove Books for sending this book for review consideration. All opinions are my own.
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This is a story of courage and childhood resilience as the author grapples with the trauma of growing up as the child of a wanted drug trafficker. Much of this book felt like a therapeutic act for the author as she wrote down her memories and perception of events in her child. It was a fascinating and quick read but overall felt a bit rushed near the end.
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Spirit of a Hummingbird is an important memoir highlighting the childhood of a first generation Asian American. The author, Felicia Thai Heath, grew up the daughter of a Vietnamese kingpin father on the run. She witnessed abuse and experienced extreme poverty in a highly dysfunctional family. Felicia’s story, although not over, ends with healing and triumph overcoming numerous adversities.

Trigger warnings: verbal, physical, and sexual abuse, family trauma 

Thank you NetGalley and River Grove Books for providing this book for review consideration. All opinions are my own.
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This audiobook was super interesting! I really enjoyed listening to it and think it would be great to read in physical form as well!

In this memoir, the author tells about her life growing up as the daughter of Vietnamese and Chinese immigrants who met in the United States. Her father, a notorious Vietnamese gang member, is in and out of jail and often on the run for many periods of her childhood. Felicia helped take care of her mother and her younger siblings all while growing up in a transient and impoverished home, witnessing domestic violence and experiencing abuse, navigating the cultural norms and expectations while trying to assimilate to American and Canadian ideals, were feats each and of themselves, much less compounded and while being only a young child! Heath also had interrupted schooling, and when she was at school, her father's crimes haunted her through teachers reading the headlines and other forms of discrimination she experienced throughout her disjointed education. With such a difficult experience as a child, it is incredible to see how she was able to use her trauma to grown and adapt and is a testament to her resiliency and unending ability to forgive. 

This is a remarkable story and one I would definitely recommend! Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me the chance to listen to and review this audiobook!
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This autobiography of Felicia Thai Heath details the physical and emotional abuse her mother experienced from her father, a Vietnamese drug lord. Her mother, Felicia and her siblings were always on the run living between Canada and the US. During her childhood she did not have a good educational foundation. Her father spent years in jail and when released was back with the family making their lives miserable. Felicia overcame her childhood trauma after battling her demons and a period of alcoholism and substance abuse. She went to medical school and became a successful physician. As an adult she tried to reconcile with her father with some difficulty. This is a story of heartache, domestic abuse, resilience and strength. Felicia’s life could have turned out very different, mired in self doubt and a tale of emotional abuse mirroring her mothers. She overcame her personal demons and rose above all the horrors of her past and became a successful and wonderful person.
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A heartfelt memoir of the daughter of a mafia kingpin who is now a successful doctor and mother. I really enjoyed this and would read more by this author.
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I got this good free and it was worth the time. The book is written so well. I didn't want to put it down. What the author was exposed to made me cry, especially her mother. Such a very taboo topic handled with grace. Your path doesn't need to define you. I would have loved to see Felicity grow away from the childhood and more into adulthood.
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Thank you to Netgalley and Greenleaf Audiobooks, River Grove Books for the audiobook to review.  I loved this book and how it would go from her childhood then the next chapter would be current.  I also loved that the author was the narrator, this way you really get the feel for what the author is trying to relay to the reader.  This was a great biography. that was deep and raw.  It is also short and easy to finish in one sitting.
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This was a moving memoir of a childhood under the specter of abuse, neglect, and poverty, with a father constantly on the run from the law and embroiled in violent gang activity. As a teen, Felicia escapes the American war in Vietnam and is adopted into an American community where she struggles to learn the language and customs. She soon falls for an older, more established man, with whom she shares a language and culture. With Felicia's birth, she becomes a teenage mom, tied to a controlling, abusive, and violent man. 

This was a wonderful book and I highly recommend it for a fast-paced, action-packed page turner. I really enjoyed it, so I can't critique it too harshly, but I do feel like the book should have given us more. The account is deeply personal and lets us readers into a life we can only imagine from soundbites on the news. However, I wish someone had told the author "your story is more than your trauma, and we want to hear all of it". As it is, the story feels unfinished. For most of the book, we feel the claustrophobia of her early years, stuck inside apartments awaiting her father's word or appearance. But we never know what's happening outside the apartment. What did her mom know? What did the police know? What did the Boston public hear? What *was* her dad spending all that money on??

As well, after her father is permanently (semi-permanently) out of the picture, her story jumps 10, 12 years into the future. We are given a few lines about moving into section 8 housing, and then a jump to the burbs when her mother remarries. I found myself SO curious about this stage of their lives - was her mother happy? Was she happy? Was the new man good to her, to her mom, to her siblings? Did school remain her escape, or did she blossom into a social butterfly? How did her siblings grow up, out from under the shadow of crime and poverty? Does she feel alienated from them because of those differences? Simply put, her story did not end when her dad got locked up, so why does it in this book?

I also felt she should have given us more when it comes to the adult period of her life when her father re-enters the picture. This part is just as important, if not more so, than her childhood trauma, but we get only snapshots of what it was like. I loved how the book opened and was holding my breath to see how the prologue is resolved, but felt a bit disappointed in the delivery at the end of the book. Perhaps the author was not ready to share something so close to her present state of mind, but I found myself wishing for more.
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Spirit of a Hummingbird 
This memoir was incredible!  The resilience that someone must have to come out of such a traumatic childhood is amazing! If you looking for a memoir that’s a quicker read then you’ve found it!   
I had the audiobook version of this book and it was also very good! 
Thanks NetGalley for this ARC!
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This memoir had some good stuff going for it. I think Heath is good at setting up the horrible childhood she had and the way it impacted her. I really felt for her and her desire to have to her family be whole and not understanding what her dad's issue was. Unfortunately, this book is just too short. Most of it she is very young, and then it skips forward to her being an adult and then it ends, with barely any reflection or how her childhood impacted her. An extra 40-50 pages with some more depth would have gone a long way. 

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Spirit of a Hummingbird is a memoir written by the daughter of a mafia boss, who was on the run. 

For those interested in true crime, this is a great, quick read to grab. Felicia Thai Heath tells her story, from the time she was a child and the rollercoaster ride of a life she lived with a "wanted" father. Her account is real and raw and inspiring for those who want to tell their own story. This can't have been an easy story to recount, write or make public, but Felicia left it all on the table, the good and the bad and you can't help but admire her brutal honesty and heartbreak. 

I listened to this on audio book and the author is also the narrator. 

I give Spirit of a Hummingbird 4/5 stars.
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