After job losses and the housing crash, the author and her family leave L.A. to start over in a most unlikely place: a nine-foot-wide back-alley house in one of Ho Chi Minh City's poorest districts, where neighbors unabashedly stare into windows, generously share their barbecued rat, keep cockroaches for luck, and ultimately help her find joy without Western trappings.
“A lighthearted memoir of new friends, delicious food, and culture shock…A brisk chronicle of a family's (mis)adventures in Vietnam.”
"Karin Esterhammer has artfully delineated what it's like to live outside your comfort zone. Her sharpshooter's eye for detail captures the Vietnamese people, their culture, and the pretzels an American family has to twist themselves into in order to adapt."
— Phil Doran, author of The Reluctant Tuscan
"When life hands you financial ruin—as the Great Recession did to former L.A. Times journalist Karin Esterhammer—the answer might seem simple: Why not move to Vietnam? Along with her husband and child, Esterhammer did just that, facing her new life in Ho Chi Minh City with courage, wit, and an open heart, all the while examining one of life's biggest questions: What is it that truly makes us wealthy? It's an unforgettable—and important—adventure of the body, soul, and pocketbook."
— Alison Singh Gee, author of Where the Peacocks Sing: A Prince, a Palace, and the Search for Home
"A loopy adventure and charming cautionary tale for anyone who's ever dreamed of packing it in and starting over somewhere new—the perfect read for the armchair expat."
— Mark Haskell Smith, author of Naked at Lunch and Baked
- Nautilus Award