The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai **Book Review** @algonquinbooks

Hello book people!

Today I am sharing with you a book I cannot adequately put into words how much I loved. This is one of those stories that will stick with me for a long time a beautiful story about resilience and family.🇻🇳

My Thoughts

Gorgeous and miracle a poignant tale of resilience and heart. Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s lush and vivid storytelling transported me to Vietnam. The story spans most of 20th century Vietnam told from alternating perspectives in dual timelines from grandmother and granddaughter. 1950s Trần Diệu Lan is Born the daughter of a wealthy farmer. As a young girl she was told by a palm reader that she would live a hard life and indeed she did. From the death of her father to the great hunger to the land reform, to the Vietnam war she stood strong and fought hard for her life and the lives of her loved ones. 1970s Hương is living with her grandmother while her parents are off at war fighting against South Vietnam and the Americans. A young girl growing up in the shadows of war, tradition, and change. Both these storylines were equally riveting, heartwrenching, compelling, and beautiful.

As an American I have always thought of the Vietnam war as an American tragedy, where the average age of the combat soldier was 19. This book was very eye-opening and really made me realize that the people of Vietnam suffered even more then I could ever imagine. The French, the Japanese, and then the Americans all invading, forcing their own ideologies on the people of Vietnam for decades. I cannot adequately express how remarkable this book was and I encourage everyone to pick it up.

Quyen Ngo narrates this audio book bringing the perfect tone to this story’s beautiful pros. There are Vietnamese sayings told in Vietnamese sprinkled throughout this book and it was lovely to hear them read to me in Vietnamese. I really love learning so much about the Vietnamese culture and people in this book. I love when a book gives us a glimpse into different cultures and traditions. This is the first book in English from Vietnamese poet Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai and I am definitely hoping it is not her last. Simply stunning!

This book in emojis 🇻🇳 👩‍👧 🍵 📚 👩🏻‍⚕️

*** Big thank you to Algonquin Books for my gifted copy of this book. All opinions are my own. ***

About the Book

With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko and Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan, The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War.

Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart.

Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope. The Mountains Sing is celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s first novel in English. 

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Have a lovely day!🌸


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