Discussion Questions

From the Publisher

Reading Guide: Discussion Questions and an Interview with Kao Kalia Yang

Sample Questions:

  • The Hmong language is intimately tied to Yang’s experience of, and expression of, Hmong culture. Her arrival in the United States means learning English and having to navigate a new culture in that language. How do the languages of our families, communities, and cultures color how we inhabit those spaces? How do they create and sustain those bonds?
  • The United States was populated by colonized Native peoples, voluntary migrants, refugees whose migration was coerced by conditions at home, and slaves. How do the complexity of our
    origin stories and learning about the conditions under which Hmong families like the Yangs arrived change your understanding of citizenship, Americanness, and home?

From the NEA Big Read

15 Questions from the National Endowment of the Arts Big Read

Sample Questions:

  • Part one begins with a description of “the biggest covert operation in CIA history” (p. 7) known as “The Secret War” and its devastating aftermath in 1975. Were you familiar with the involvement of the Hmong people in the Vietnam War before you read the book? In what ways can a memoir go beyond mere documentation to expand our understanding of a chapter of American history?
  • What surprised you about Yang’s experiences living in a refugee camp?
  • Yang describes the strong bond she feels with her siblings, her parents, her grandmother, and the rest of her extended family. How do these bonds define, support, and/or challenge her? How do the familial bonds in your life define, support, and/or challenge you?

Reader’s Resources