Questions for Discussion

  1. In the first chapter, Viet’s father tells him they will try to give all the children to officials to put them on a plane to America. Discuss whether you think this was a right or wrong thing to do.
  2. Describe the changing relationship between Viet and his father as the story unfolds.
  3. If you were Viet’s father, would you have done anything differently?
  4. Is there anything Viet should have done differently?
  5. Describe the differences in interests, temperament and behavior between Viet and his brother Vinh.
  6. What are the similarities between growing up in America and growing up in Vietnam during the book’s time ­period? Are the rules you are supposed to live by fair?
  7. Describe the factors contributing to a strained relationship between Viet’s mother and his grandmother from North Vietnam. (p. 126-143)
  8. Describe Viet’s father’s experience with communism as a young boy in North Vietnam. (p. 21-23) Do you think it justified his fear of the communists and his plan to take his family’s lives?
  9. Do you think Ho Chi Minh was good or evil? Explain. (p. 287-288) Describe what you think his concept of Communist Heaven was.
  10. Is it possible to achieve complete equality among people? Discuss why or why not.
  11. Describe Phong’s personal reality. (p. 309-310) Was there anything Viet could have done to help Phong escape from his reality? What do you think Viet should have done when he found the needle?
  12. Do you think it’s true that if power becomes too ­centralized in any society, the ones with power will suppress others for their own gain? How can we prevent this from happening?
  13. Was it right or wrong for Viet to sell the stolen watch in the Black Market? What choice would you have made and why?
  14. Are there any good things about communism? What parts of the ideology would you want to incorporate into your society?
  15. What parts of communism would you definitely not ­accept?
  16. Escape from Communist Heaven was written as a novel. Everything in the story likely happened to someone during this time period, but did not always happen to the real Viet. There is a tradeoff between factual accounts that may not provide much entertainment, and fictional accounts that are obviously not 100% factual. Discuss the potential value of each.


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