Book Name – The Mountains Sing
Author – Nguyen Phan Que Mai
Publisher – Oneworld Publications
Page Count – 322
Book Link – Amazon
The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai is a poignant and heart-wrenching tale of multiple generations’ sufferings through the years of struggle in the Vietnamese War during the 1950s. After 15 days of reading this heartfelt book, I finally mustered up the courage to write the review, even though I know it won’t do justice to the book.
The Mountains Sing is a multigenerational family saga of the Tran family dating back to the 1920s. The book’s narration is set with dual perspectives, one is of Dieu Lan and the other being Huong her granddaughter. Huong is left behind in the care of her grandmother as remaining all the other family members are at the warfighting for their motherland. The story is set amid the Vietnam War and how the Trans family struggled over the generations. We are shown the Tran’s family struggles through the plethora of historical events set in various generations such as The Great Hunger, division between North and South Vietnam, The Land Reform, French colonialism, The great Vietnam War, and the American Invasion. This book sheds a great deal of light on the people of Vietnam and their plight.
Huong’s grandmother narrates her own story to Huong after having to flee with her five children during the Land Reform as a very young woman. Being from a wealthy, land-owning family to coming down on streets and begging the food for her children while being on the run from the new Communist government. The narration was heartfelt.
I loved this book so much! It was unputdownable to me. Even when the theme of the book was painful at times, but the way Nguyen Phan Que Mai has written this book is just so lyrical and descriptive that it was hard for me not to read it. I loved how it flicked the narratives between Huong and Dieu Lan with ease and very smoothly and I was engaged in both of them. A less-common setting of Vietnam with two strong-headed women narrating their unique and refreshing perspectives made it a lot more impactful for me.
In our family, love is something that we show, not something we speak about.
Although, the book is fiction it is very much drawn from the lives of real people and atrocities faced by their families during the Vietnam War. It was a myriad of emotions, while my eyes were glued to the pages of the book and read about all the impossible choices, that the war made people do. There is fairly a good number of characters in the book but the narrative helped me as a reader to get a better grip on the cast and plot. There were some intimate moments with included the first love, reunions of long-lost families, the moment of kindness in the face of hardships, and overcoming the odds, no matter how tough the situation is.
It was a worthy read that savored the motherly affection for her children who time and again reaches her inner core of strength and not only survives but thrives! This is the narrative that I know will stick with me for a long time. I’m grateful to the author for penning this beautiful book and making me aware of the Vietnam war history and the culture. Read this book and get immersed in the vivid descriptions and lucid writings of Nguyen. I highly recommend it!