Mani/Pedi: A True-Life Rags-to-Riches Story by Krista Beth Driver

Thanks to Booksparks for sending me a free copy of the book.

Synopsis (Goodreads):

She left everything behind and risked not only her life, but also the lives of her two small children to escape from Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon. In the middle of the night, Charlie―along with her husband, two toddlers and two young sisters―joined 100 other people on a tiny boat and fled their home country. The journey was long and dangerous, but after almost two years in refugee camps, the family finally made it to America. 

After emigrating, as many Vietnamese refugee women did, Charlie began working in the booming nail industry. When her path crossed with Olivett, an African American woman, they became business partners―and built an empire together. After only a few years in the US, Charlie was a millionaire and living the American dream. Her tale is one of tragedy and triumph―a true rags to riches story that will amaze and inspire readers from all walks of life.


This was definitely an interesting read. I went into it thinking it was a firsthand account of building a nail salon business from the ground up, written by a Vietnamese immigrant. It turned out I wasn’t paying enough attention. Yes, that’s a good chunk of the story, but it’s not a firsthand account, and the story includes a lot of information about Charlie’s immigration experience. I do wonder if I would’ve felt more connected to the story had it been told in Charlie’s voice. I’m a big fan of the “own voices” movement of telling stories, and have to admit to being disappointed that it was authored by a white woman. That being said, based on the acknowledgments at the back of the book, KBD did her best to do Charlie’s story justice within these pages. Ultimately I walked away from this read feeling slightly underwhelmed, but I learned a lot.

I really appreciated how much of the book was dedicated to Charlie’s immigration experience. I learned a lot about what it was like during that specific time period and felt like I was able to get a slightly better grasp on what is happening around the world today. It also helped me to appreciate Charlie’s drive and motivation when it came to building her business. Unfortunately, the writing came across as a bit choppy and didn’t always flow smoothly.

Ultimately, I’ll say I’m glad another woman’s story was told. I’ll never tire of hearing about the strength, intelligence, and tenacity of women in a world dominated by men. Mind blowing? No. Interesting? Yes.

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Author stats: Instagram

Book stats: paperback, 202 pages, She Writes Press, October 8, 2019

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