Aloha Vietnam

A rich journey across the Pacific Ocean to find one’s true home and identity amidst loss, grief, and mental illness.

Anh is 17 years old and a senior in high school working on a watercolor art series when she experiences her first manic episode. She is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, put on medications, and she and her Vietnamese-American family are suddenly thrown into the world of mental health treatment and recovery.

Anh’s mother Xuan grapples with understanding her daughter’s struggles, while also trying to make sense of her own loss and grief of leaving behind her family and motherland of Vietnam to raise her children in America. The family find refuge across the Pacific Ocean on the warm shores of Honolulu, Hawaii, Anh navigates growing up in a refugee family in a new land and culture, and dealing with the struggles of her own mind. She finds solace in her love for the ocean and her art.

This is the story of finding one’s identity and place of belonging in a shifting landscape of tradition, heritage, and culture, and the healing power of art, water, and love.

About the author:

Elizabeth Nguyen, MD was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her parents were refugees from Vietnam who arrived in Honolulu in 1975 at the end of the Vietnam War. She received her BA from Stanford University in Human Biology, her MD from Northwestern University, and her Psychiatry Residency and Child Psychiatry Fellowship training at UC Davis. She started her career in community mental health, with specific interests in cross-cultural psychiatry, the intersection of spirituality and mental health, and the healing power of water and the natural world. She is now in private practice in Davis, CA. You can learn more about her psychiatry practice at and her work with water at

Of the inspiration behind and the intention for Aloha Vietnam, Dr. Nguyen says: “There is so much trauma and healing in the human ancestral lineages, and water, art, and storytelling help us in becoming whole and natural again. This book is my love offering to the land and the people of Vietnam and Hawaii, and the vast Pacific Ocean that connects them. It is my hope that it provides beauty and healing to the trauma and suffering that has come through generations of loss and the struggles of mental illness.”

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Radio Interview with CapRadio Insight Show with Vicki Gonzalez:


Podcast Interview with Publisher Unbound Press Founder Nicola Humber:

Press Release

Vietnamese Language Press Release in Người Việt Daily News:


Radio Interview with Hawai’i Public Radio The Conversation host Russell Subiono

UC Davis Magazine

Dr. Elizabeth Nguyen, author of Aloha Vietnam, discusses “a  rich journey ..

‘Aloha Vietnam’

Local news press release in The Davis Enterprise

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“Aloha Vietnam” author talks about Hawaii and The Island’s influence on her book

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Dr. Elizabeth Nguyen psychiatrist and author of aloha vietnam discusses mental health

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