The Mountains Sing
Who is really the enemy? Huong Tran lives with her grandmother while her parents fight for North Vietnam during the Vietnam War, and alternates between fleeing bombs and imagining her family’s idyllic future once the Americans withdraw from her homeland. But her mother staggers back traumatized, her father remains MIA, and her uncle returns severely maimed. In an effort to assuage Huong’s disillusionment, her grandmother narrates the Trans’ dramatic escape from the Viet Cong during the Land Reform of the early twentieth century. She hopes that helping Huong understand the horrors her relatives suffered twice in thirty years will convince her that forgiveness is the only way to heal as well as to prevent future bloodshed.
The compelling characters and realistic plot in The Mountains Sing make it difficult to remember it’s not a memoir. The novel is also Que Mai’s first major English work; while the dialogue is generally well-executed, certain exchanges may seem a bit awkward. These moments don’t affect the novel’s larger value, however. Que Mai opens a window into the other side of a controversial war, and we would do well to consider the lessons her characters teach.
|Nguyen Phan Que Mai
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