Home Books One Arm But Not Unarmed: Book Review
One Arm But Not Unarmed: Book Review Print E-mail
Written by Patricia Turnier   
Saturday, 16 November 2019 01:43


Suzan Nguyen, the baby of her family, had a tragic car accident at the tender age of 22 more specifically on January 13, 2001.  She ended up without her right arm (her dominant one), which had been cut off above the elbow. She had a lot of pain and morphine needed to be administrated.  She was in the hospital for several months.  Her world shattered after the accident.  Suzan Nguyen had to learn how to write again, dress, comb her hair, etc.  Every single task that most of us take for granted was a tribulation for her.  She did not even know if she would stay alive after the accident which affected her entire family.  The authoress is not afraid to share her vulnerabilities in the book, the mask is off with no sugar coating and it makes the autobiography unique.

Nguyen managed to overcome this ordeal after going through difficult situations such as ending up in prison, a descent into hell. The powerful book recounts her journey. It is very interesting that in her autobiography Nguyen shares the anger she felt because in the society since our childhood, females are taught to not express anger like boys are taught to not express their pain by crying. Nguyen was in prison for a couple of weeks. The authoress reveals in her book what she learned while she was incarcerated.

Physical appearance was always important to Nguyen. So, she had to go a long way to make peace with what she lost and to grieve. She had cuts and scratches on her face after the accident. Suzan Nguyen has a lot of resilience and her book can inspire many people to overcome their own struggles or rise above their ashes. It has the capacity to provide courage and hope to people from all walks of life. Her path is a testament that it is possible to live a complete life in spite of hardships. The title of the book is well-chosen. It would have been interesting if the authoress shared her cultural background and the migratory journey of her family. It would be noteworthy to know for instance if she is a first generation American-Vietnamese or not, what brought her family to the U.S. etc. In addition, it would have been interesting to know more about what was her life before the car accident and the mourning she had to do after.

It would also be useful in a second edition to add a list of resources that can be helpful to people with disabilities. Furthermore, it would be interesting to add at the end a list of companies which are open-minded to hire people with disabilities. This would be valuable and a great tool because according to the U.S Department of Labor, in 2018 the proportion of the disabled population that was working was 19.1% —so many people with handicaps can contribute to the society and have a lot to offer around the world. We tend to forget for instance that Franklin D. Roosevelt was the only president in the history of the nation who was elected four times. The former Miss America Heather Whitestone-McCallum who happens to be deaf said “The most handicapped people on earth are those who are handicapped by negative thoughts and low expectations”. In Nguyen's autobiography, readers learn that she worked at a Mattress Firm corporate office and that she was asked to share her story at a national conference. Speaking before 1200 people had a positive profound impact on her.

Suzan Nguyen realized with time after a period of anger and sorrow that it was not worth it to stay indignant and she decided to make the best that she could with what she has. She recognized that she has things to offer. With time, she grieved. Hence, in her compelling first book, the authoress shares her transformative five-step process for surmounting bitterness, anger and adversity, and choosing to live your best life and version of yourself. Nguyen is a strong advocate and believer that our own joy comes from within. She is a testament of this because she realizes that she had two choices after her accident: remain bitter and pessimistic or working hard to get the best outcomes in spite of her tribulations. This is the main message that she conveys in her book.

One arm but not unarmed reminds us there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Living in this highly visual world (with the Internet including social media) that constantly promotes utopic (often photoshopped) image ideals can become a serious struggle for some people. Nguyen’s story is uplifting and becomes a real model for those who need one. The book makes people ponder about the shallow mindset conveyed in society regarding the highly promoted image of women. It often gives the impression that many men solely assess females on their physicality. Nguyen’s husband certainly does not adhere to this and Nguyen’s story gives women hope. Women are probably being judged more than ever on their appearances. Some internalize this and go through risking procedures such as plastic surgery. It is very refreshing to hear the story of a woman who met a man who loves her for who she is and not for superficial reasons such as status and so on. Nguyen considers her husband as a blessing in her life and she wonderfully shares in her autobiography what he means to her. Nguyen managed to keep her sense of humor and see the beauty in life in spite of her tribulations. She does not take herself too seriously.

Suzan Nguyen became a life coach years after her ordeal. Beyond having diplomas, if someone managed to go through personal hardships but did not find a healthy way to solve his/her problems, he/she will not be equipped to help other people. The authoress Nguyen believes in this quote from Roy T. Bennett that speaks to her and that she shared in her book: “Some things in life cannot be taught; they must be experienced. You never learn the most valuable lessons in life until you go through your own journey.” These words certainly apply to people who want to help individuals with their lives by uplifting them.

This powerful and page turner book should be translated into other languages such as Chinese, Vietnamese, French, Spanish and so on. The book should also be available in an audio format to make it more widely accessible. Suzan Nguyen’s book is a great gift that she is providing to the world because she is a living proof that it is possible to overcome hurdles and turn your life around. Suzan Nguyen is a woman who is not in competition with anybody; she decided to become her best self and decided to fully live.

Overall, One Arm But Not Unarmed is an inspiring book which provides tips that can help people to have a happier life. Nguyen’s book has a lot of soul and she wrote it with her heart. Her story can give courage to many people. It reminds us that in spite of hardship it is always possible to rise with faith, support and love. Readers will find in the autobiography similar sage advice like in the desiderata (by the American writer Max Ehrmann) such as not comparing yourself to others.

About the authoress:

Nguyen describes herself as a very proud woman, willing to contribute in society, being part of the workforce. It is really important to her and always has been. She started to work at the age of 16. Suzan Nguyen is a life coach who owns her company entitled BBnB (Be better no bitter) Coaching. She has her own Podcast by the name of ‘Yeah, You Got This’. Nguyen was trained by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC) at the University of Texas (Austin). She became a certified Happiness Chief Encouragement Officer. The main approach she uses is Positive Psychology. Her coaching expertise is: Personal Development, Empowerment and Image/Self-Esteem. She released her autobiography last spring. She gave a poignant TED Talk speech narrating her journey that can be watched below. She does speaking engagements and by giving back to the community via volunteer efforts. She lives with her husband of 13 years in Houston, Texas. She is the baby of her family. Suzan Nguyen has 5 siblings.

The book is available in paperback and in a kindle version on amazon.com, .ca, .co.uk, barnesandnoble.com and walmart.com

The above article is the first Canadian book review of One Arm But Not Unarmed.

Contact Info:

• Website: www.bbnbcoaching.com.
• Phone: 281-221-2298
• Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
• Instagram: suzan_nguyening
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/onearmbutnotunarmed

• Also connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter at Suzan Nguyening