Writing Contest



Red and Blue Fireworks_edited.png
Red and Blue Fireworks_edited_edited.png
1st place
The Life She Once Knew.jpeg

The Life She Once Knew

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


Vanna Nguyen

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.

Get the Book and Learn More About it Here

Amazon Reviews Of The Book

The depth of the Human Soul

This book taught me so much more than I thought I already knew. I had heard and read about the Bloomindale Library attack. I had followed the subsequent newspaper articles, the Court proceedings and the news casts. I had seen information on fundraisers for Queena. I followed Queena on Facebook. What I didn't know or understand is what happened to everyone after Queena's attack. I knew a lot of what had happened to Queena, but this book lets you see into the souls of many members of her family as well as friends and community. I consider myself a fairly deep thinker. I always equate events using the proverbial pebble thrown into a pond and the resultant ripples and their effect. That's what this book is. That, and SO much more. The family grew from this and even though their hearts were broken and they and Queena still struggle every single day they are such bright lights of example for the all of the rest of us. Get this book. It may change the way YOU think.

The Life she once knew- an incredible faith journey

Highly recommend this book about a young woman’s life forever changed after dropping books off at a library, her mother’s harrowing journey of leaving Vietnam as a young woman and their families journey of faith. Incredible stories filled with hope and love. It is a true story. I started reading and could not put it down. 5 stars

Amazing and uplifting

This book is so inspirational. It couldn’t have come at a better time. With how disconnected the world is feeling these days with Covid this book brought light and hope. I continue to to amazed by this family and am so proud of Vanna for writing this book. I am sure it is going to be a great testament to many. We believe in you Queena!

Learn More About The Author

Vanna Nguyen


As a young child, Vanna Nguyen enjoyed a prestigious life in South Vietnam until the country’s fall to Communism in 1975. After risking her life for the dream of freedom, she fled to the United States where she became a citizen and raised her two daughters, Anna and Queena.

Life was perfect until 18-year-old Queena was brutally attacked and raped while dropping books off at the local library. As a result of the attack, Vanna lost not only her once-thriving small business, but she also lost her beloved daughter as she knew her.

Today, Vanna is a tireless advocate for Queena’s rehabilitation from traumatic brain injury sustained during the attack. Vanna manages the popular Join Queena website and official social media accounts.

Vanna was compelled to write her memoir The Life She Once Knew to share her journey as a refugee and as a mother whose daughter suffered a traumatic brain injury. Vanna hopes her story will inspire others and will imbue them with strength.

Connect with Vanna

Interview With The Author

When did you start writing?

Two days after my daughter Queena’s 18th birthday on April 24, 2008, she was viciously attacked by a teenage boy and left for dead outside the Bloomingdale Library in Valrico, FL. Queena, who was a high school senior at the time with a future full of promise, suffered severe brain damage. She was put into a medical coma in an attempt to save brain function, but woke up unable to walk, see, or speak.
Once when we arrived at the hospital and found out the extent of her injuries, that’s where the journey began.
From 2008, we have so many supporters and followers. Every day, we have a message sent through Queena’s website http://www.joinqueena.com/, or an email to me, that says “I want to give up my life but when I see Queena keep going, [then that does] not allow me to do that. You need to write a book to help the people.” 
So, I started four years ago to write this book.

What makes writing your passion?

My background implies that and how deeply upset I was after Queena's attack. I couldn't cry at first; I was just in shock. I remember screaming on the roof of the hospital and wondering, "Why her? Why us?" But it didn't bring my comfort to ask those questions. The kindness and generosity of other people in the community did, as well as turning to God.
And when I was faced with forgiveness and acceptance and finding God amidst tragedy.

We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?

If you’ve ever thought “I really want to write a book someday” … then don’t let it become a regret! 
Every night after I put Queena to bed, I dedicated the hours between midnight and 3 AM to writing our story. I wrote the entire book in the Notes app in my iPhone. English is my second language and I struggle with technology. I never thought that I’d be able to publish a book, but I did it! 
Sometimes all you have to do is just think about what could be possible and that will keep you going.