Dragon House: Book summary and reviews of Dragon House by John Shors

Dragon House

By John Shors

Dragon House
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2009,
    384 pages.

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Book Summary

From the critically acclaimed author of Beneath a Marble Sky and Beside a Burning Sea—a new novel set in modern-day Vietnam.

Dragon House tells the tale of Iris and Noah—two Americans who, as a way of healing their own painful pasts, open a center to house and educate Vietnamese street children. In the slums of a city that has known little but war for generations, Iris and Noah befriend children who dream of nothing more than of going to school, having a home, and being loved. Learning from the poorest of the poor, the most silent of the unheard, Iris and Noah find themselves reborn. Resounding with powerful themes of suffering, sacrifice, friendship, and love, Dragon House brings together East and West, war and peace, and celebrates the resilience of the human spirit.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"In a large cast of appealing characters, the street children are the heart of this book; their talents, friendships, and perils keep you turning the pages." - Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club

"There is a tenderness in this moving, deeply descriptive novel that brings all those frequently hidden qualities of compassion, purity of mind, and, yes, love—the things we used to call the human spirit—into the foreground of our feeling as readers. This is a beautiful heart speaking to us of the beautiful world we could and should find, even in the darkness that so often floods the world with fear." - Gregory David Roberts, bestselling author of Shantaram

"A sprawling, vibrant novel." – David Oliver Relin, bestselling author of Three Cups of Tea

"This is strong, important work from a gifted writer." – Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

Fictional characters serve mainly as mouthpieces for an admittedly noble mission (portions of the novel's proceeds will support a Vietnamese children's foundation); nonfiction might have better served the author's purpose." - Kirkus Reviews

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Carol P. (Mendham, NJ)
Dragon House- a story of love
Dragon House is a story about love and commitment. Iris is the daughter of a Vietnam war vet who started the concept of a school for orphans in Vietnam. Iris, at his death, committed herself to accomplishing her father's goal. Noah, is an Iraqi war vet who was injured both physically and mentally during his service. Noah and Iris form an unlikely alliance and travel to Vietnam together to work on the school.

Iris is joined by Thien, a Vietnamese woman who works with them on the development of the school and shares in the dangers to bring their goal to fruition. Thien touches Noah as he sees again through her, the beauty of life vs. the despair he feels.

The book also describes the orphans on the street, the "johns" who control them, the graft and corruption in the country but at the same time the elegance of the people who live there.

Mr Shors has crafted a lovely story of lives that intertwine and touch each other to overcome grief, hardship and loss to reach a common goal. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to young readers and readers like myself.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Joanne V. (Towanda, PA)
Not as good as "The Burning Shore"
I had so much enjoyed "The Burning Shore" that I was looking forward to reading this book. Shores does his usual wonderful job of character development and his descriptions of Viet Nam are vivid; however, I wasn't as drawn into the story as I was with "The Burning Shore" and it took me a bit longer than usual to finish. It is a little too predictable.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Nina R. (Hot Springs, AR)
Hard to put down
I enjoyed this book from start to finish and hated to see it end. My book club will definitely be glad for my recommendation.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Karen D. (Chestnut Hill, MA)
Most Enjoyable
Having read "Beneath a Marble Sky", I was anxious to read another of John Shors books. I am not quite finished with "Dragon House, but I think it is so good, that I wanted other BookBrowse members to know how much I enjoyed this read. So descriptive of the city it makes you feel like you are there. The children, their hardships, their lives and yet they endure. Noah is a great character study. So angry with how his life was so badly changed. Iris and Thien, two women out to change the outcome of children' lives.

A great book and I give it as many stars as I could.

Rated 2 of 5 of 5 by Alex Z. (Savannah, GA)
Syrup House
The story and it’s setting are reasonably interesting and convincing. As a former Peace Corps volunteer, I have some acquaintance with the poverty and injustice prevalent in undeveloped countries, and I think Mr. Shors writes from his heart. But this novel is shallow and the prose incredibly maudlin. My impression is that Mr. Shors is a compassionate man who has something to contribute to the world; but, in my opinion as a reader, he should consider channeling his talent in some other direction --maybe writing screenplays for soap operas.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Hilary H. (Bristol, RI)
Dragon House - mixed reviews
Though I enjoyed this book, I had mixed feelings as I read it. The writing seemed uneven - it was slow at the beginning though the end of the story tears along. It made it hard to pick between good and average when rating this one.

The topic was appealing - a daughter of a Vietnam vet goes to Vietnam with her Iraq War injured friend to complete a project that her father (the vet) had started before his death. The project is to create a residence/school for street children. The author does a great job of describing Ho Chi Minh City, the street children and the surrounding area. The children are the strongest characters - from their meager existence/threats from adults/limited prospects for the future to discovering that they did have options and people do actually care about what happens to them. The other Vietnamese characters - the assistant at the Center, the policeman with bad eye sight but hopes for his country, even the nasty, opium smoking Loc - were developed sympathetically so that you really are interested in what happens to them. Other parts of the story less imaginative.

I do appreciate that the author plans to donate funds from the book to the Blue Dragon Children's Foundation.

...10 more reader reviews

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Author Information

John Shors Author Biography

After graduating from Colorado College, John Shors lived for several years in Kyoto, Japan, where he taught English. On a shoestring budget, he later trekked across Asia, visiting ten countries and climbing the Himalayas. After returning to the United States, he became a newspaper reporter in his hometown, Des Moines, Iowa, winning several statewide awards in journalism. John then moved to Boulder, Colorado, and helped launch GroundFloor Media, now one of the state's largest public relations firms.

John has been lucky enough to spend much of his life abroad, traveling in Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, Africa, and North America. Now a full-time novelist, John spends his days writing and going on family outings with his wife, Allison, and their two young children, Sophie and Jack.

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