“My first name, Bảo Vi, showed my parents’ determination to “protect the smallest one.” In a literal translation, I am “Tiny precious microscopic.” As is often the case in Vietnam, I did not match the image of my own name.”
ebook, 88 pages.
Read September 28, 2018.
Having enjoyed Ru for its beautiful prose, I was happy to find this short read by Thúy.
This story follows a similar formula to Ru, as it follows one girl, Vi, and her family’s story of immigration from Vietnam to Canada during the midst of the Vietnam war. Their father does not take the perilous journey over with causing a tear in the family. Once in Canada, the once affluent family has to make serious financial adjustments in their new home. In a way, Vi is another adaptation of Ru. Vi is a first-generation Vietnamese-Canadian stuck in between the cultures and traditions her mother believes in and the new ones in their new home in Montreal, Canada. As with many first-generation immigrants, Vi is at odds with her values and identity. Her mother is traditional and wants her to follow her upbringing but the current atmosphere in Canada is very different compared to where she grew up and she dabbles in what her mother views as scandalous behaviours.
The story is short and the ending is ambivalent but it’s an honest rendition of one person’s struggles to come to terms with their own identity as they grow in a new country there is, however, some jumping around with the timeframe in the plot that is hard to follow at times. As with Ru, I am curious to know how much of the story actually happened to the author as she shares a similar background story to her characters.
Overall, this book is a beautiful read and an easy way to get a quick read in if you’re looking to catch up on a reading goal.
“Every night I cut out my heart. But in the morning it was full again”
Hardcover, 307 pages.
Read from July 22, 2018 to July 29, 2018.
Is there a book list out there that doesn’t have this book on it somewhere? Probably not. This book has been awarded numerous accolades, most recently the Golden Man Booker prize for this year. As a Canadian, this book has been on my to-read list since my university days, especially since I have already read In the Skin of a Lion, which I sadly have no recollection of. Admittedly, I didn’t even know what this novel was about prior to picking it up so I was happy to see that the plot is set during WWII as I do enjoy historical-fiction from that era.
WWII may have just ended but not in the minds of those who were deeply involved in it Hana is a nurse who has refused to leave her post at a war-time hospital in Italy despite it being abandoned and still within the vicinity of landmines. She will not leave a burn patient who is barely alive and has no memory of who is he or how he got here. A family friend, who also served, comes to find Hana and ends up staying with her at the hospital. They are then joined later by an aloof stranger who is also can’t stop being a soldier and is having trouble letting go of the war that has traumatized them all.
As a reader, you are kept at length from all the characters in the book, despite their dire emotional states thus following how the characters themselves keep each other and their feelings also at a distance. At first, I was intrigued by the approach and eagerly read my way through the first half of the novel, however, the last half felt like a slog as the intrigue wore off and I realized how the story and the characters were going nowhere. The burned patient, this unknown person who has lost their memory, was initially very compelling especially with the relationship he had with Hana, but I felt the details of his story got too messy and drawn out that by the end that I didn’t end up really caring who he was despite his eventual connections to everyone. The story of this book is like a slow-moving dream including the muddiness that often comes when you dream.
With all that said, I did enjoy Hana’s character and story and there were aspects of this novel that I loved. The story transported me to the historical setting and I did find myself wrapped in that world long after I finished the novel. Many readers feel that this book is somewhat of a love story and I find that is a bit of stretch. I feel the story is more about on the characters trying to heal through each other from their individual traumas and the unique bond of the war that connects them in the strange abandoned hospital.
Ultimately, I did enjoy this novel I just wanted more out of the story than what was provided but it was still a worthwhile read. This story would suit any historical fiction fan and while I cannot remember much of the plot from In The Skin of a Lion, I read that the two are more meaningful if paired together. Perhaps a re-read is in order?
Will Drizzt act on his building jealousy? Where will this path of revenge lead him?
Hardcover, 352 pages.
Read from June 27, 2018 to July 5, 2018.
In anticipation of the newest release the in Legend of Drizzt series, I have been trying to make a bit of progress through this immense series. If I am honest though, I don’t really want to catch up. This series has always been a reliable go-to easy and enjoyable read that has almost always gotten me out of book slumps. While the last book in this series, Neverwinter I found a bit lacklustre, this book helped revive the story a bit.
Drizzt is still following his lover, Dahlia, on her path for revenge against the Netherese lord Herzgo Alegni. This is not typical behaviour for Drizzt as he has often followed a path of righteousness, or at least he did with his old companions. As in Neverwinter, you get to see a darker side to Drizzt that wasn’t present in the previous novels. Drizzt does not feel the same remorse while killing and he finds himself feeling something he has never felt before: jealousy. Dahlia and Drizzt’s frenemy Artemis have a connection and an understanding of suffering that he cannot relate to. A suffering that has lead the two of them to questionable lives, in Drizzt’s opinion, but is also drawing them closer together. Dahlia seems a little too concerned about the impending end of Artemis as the journey to kill Herzgo and destroy the sword that has enslaved Artemis well past his human lifespan. Will Drizzt act on his building jealousy? Where will this path of revenge lead him?
It’s kind of nice to see Drizzt have a few faults. I mean, the elf is damn near perfect otherwise and the darker themes lend well to developing his character. Do I like Dahlia? Not particularly. Do I feel bad for her awful childhood? Yes. Artemis, I have always had a thing for as he mirrors the other side of Drizzt. Unfortunately, there are a lot of side characters in this book that I don’t care for that convolute the plot, a problem I also had with this book’s predecessor. I am still, however, looking forward to the final book in this four-part series and will continue to follow Drizzt until the end of the total series in which I am still about 10 books behind in.