BIOGRAPHY

The Life She Once Knew: The Incredible True Story of Queena, the Bloomingdale Library Attack Survivor

Ambassador International. Nov. 2020. 279p. ISBN 9781620207277. pap. $16.99. MEMOIR
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Queena Phu was raped and beaten at the public library in Bloomingdale, FL, in 2018. This memoir by Queena’s mother highlights how violence impacted their family and community for years. Nguyen recounts events before, during, and after her daughter’s ordeal with pathos, sparing no grim details. Middle chapters intersperse Nguyen’s narrative of emigrating from Vietnam during the period following the Communist capture of Saigon with Queena’s struggles to achieve developmental milestones in her recovery. These sections are the most successful in highlighting how Nguyen’s willingness to endure hardship to improve her daughters’ quality of life was once again activated by the attack at the library. Nguyen makes explicit the range of issues survivors of violence face, including struggles with the U.S. health care system, sentencing requirements for her daughter’s attacker within the justice system, and victim’s rights advocacy. Nguyen’s Christian faith is a theme throughout. At times, the text is repetitive, and some direct quotations in later chapters are overly long.
VERDICT Recommended to those seeking personal accounts of survivors of sexual violence, and those who have followed Queena’s story.

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