Book Review

Review – The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai



Set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War, The Mountains Sing is the enveloping, multi-generational tale of the Trần family, perfect for fans of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing.

Hà Nội, 1972. Hương and her grandmother, Trần Diệu Lan, cling to one another in their improvised shelter as American bombs fall around them. Her father and mother have already left to fight in a war that is tearing not just her country but her family apart. For Trần Diệu Lan, forced to flee the family farm with her six children decades earlier as the Communist government rose to power in the North, this experience is horribly familiar. Seen through the eyes of these two unforgettable women, The Mountains Sing captures their defiance and determination, hope and unexpected joy.

Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyễn’s richly lyrical debut weaves between the lives of grandmother and granddaughter to paint a unique picture of the country’s turbulent twentieth-century history. This is the story of a people pushed to breaking point, and a family who refuse to give in.

My Review:

The Mountains Sing…

Reading The Mountains Sing has been an extremely personal and affecting experience to me. That’s why I haven’t been able to write a review on this book even though I finished it more than a week ago.

Reading the stories of Houng and her grandmother Tran, to me, it felt like I was reading the story of my own country China and reading the story of my mother and my grandparents. China and Vietnam had a very similar but painful past from the 1930s to 1970s. Foreign invasion, land reform, famine. These parts of the book I found it so hard hitting and I felt almost suffocated by the sheer horror of the acts and the utter inhumane way of how an innocent person could be treated.

I find it extremely hard to write this review. I don’t think I have the right to review a book where the author has poured her heart out in telling her story, a story where millions have lost their homes and lives. This book has affected me deeply and my gratitude to Nguyen Phan Que Mai for writing this incredible piece which has totally captured my heart. My thanks to One World Publication for sending me this copy, thank you.

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