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The Life She Once Knew

The Life She Once Knew

The Incredible True Story of Queena, The Bloomingdale Library Attack Survivor


Vanna Nguyen


Biography / Memoir, Nonfiction

Publish Date

November 11, 2020

Short Description

In 1981, a young woman faced death as she lay on the floor of a small boat in the South China Sea fleeing the life she once knew in Vietnam.

In 2008, her teenage daughter lay fighting for her life after being brutally raped and abandoned while returning books at a library near Tampa, Florida.

The attack in front of the Bloomingdale library left Queena with a traumatic brain injury, sentenced to a life unable to walk, see, or speak. As Vanna Nguyen lovingly poured herself into caring for her now severely disabled daughter, she also battled with reliving her own Vietnam War survival story. And she must decide, can she forgive the attacker whose unforgivable decision changed both their lives as they knew them forever?

In The Life She Once Knew, Vanna candidly chronicles the deeply spiritual and emotionally powerful journeys of these two strong women as they fight for their lives and their futures decades apart.


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The Life She Once Knew: The Incredible True Story of Queena, The Bloomingdale Library Attack Survivor is a deeply-emotional, powerful, personal story; it is an inspirational Christian memoir about losing Vanna Nguyen’s daughter to a senseless, violent attack, and finding the ability to forgive by turning her life over to God.

She was known to the world as “Bloomingdale Library Attack Victim” when she returned books at the library to avoid late fees. While her back was turned, a man grabbed her and dragged her into a nearby swamp where he raped her, beat her, and left her to die behind a Tampa Bay library in April 24, 2008. Queena had just turned eighteen. As Queena’s life hangs in the balance, Vanna remembers what she experienced at the same age, facing death as she lay on the floor of a small boat in the South China Sea. Vanna also found herself at eighteen fighting for her life.

The Life She Once Knew details the personal journey of faith behind a highly publicized crime in the Tampa, Florida, area. This brutal attack against Vanna Nguyen’s eighteen-year-old Queena, left her unable to walk, see, or to speak and brought sudden darkness to the life of Queena’s mother, Vanna Nguyen, as well. But the experience of caring for her severely disabled daughter was followed by a slow dawning of light and hope. Once Queena’s attacker goes to trial, Vanna’s faith is put to the test. She struggles to forgive the young man who hit her daughter so forcefully that he cracked her skull, stole her daughter’s innocence, took away her daughter’s future. Throughout the memoir, Vanna relies on God with increasing faith. God gives her the power to forgive and to transcend the overwhelming evil perpetrated by the attacker, Kendrick Morris. In the end, they triumph through this tragedy, as they grow in faith, love and hope.

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Vanna Nguyen

Vanna Nguyen


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