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The Mountains Sing


Winner of the 2020 BookBrowse Debut Novel Award: A multi-generational tale set ...
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Overall, what do you think of The Mountains Sing? (no spoilers in this thread, please)

Created: 03/18/21

Replies: 35

Posted Mar. 18, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2619

Overall, what do you think of The Mountains Sing? (no spoilers in this thread, please)

Overall, what do you think of The Mountains Sing? (no spoilers in this thread, please)


Posted Mar. 18, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2619

RESOURCES FOR READERS & BOOK CLUBS

To learn more about Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai and "The Mountains Sing", I recommend:

https://www.bookbrowse.com/author_interviews/full/index.cfm/author_number/3295

and

http://bookbrowse.com/images/bookclubs/nguyen-phan-que-mai-flyer.pdf

For book clubs interesting in discussing The Mountains Sing, I wholeheartedly recommend the book club kit linked from our reading guide page: https://www.bookbrowse.com/reading_guides/detail/index.cfm/book_number/4075

And for those interested in further background on the period, see our "beyond the book" article: Land Reforms in North Vietnam (1953-1956): https://www.bookbrowse.com/mag/btb/index.cfm/book_number/4075/the-mountains-sing#btb

--Davina, BookBrowse Publisher


Posted Mar. 18, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
glennw

Join Date: 12/03/20

Posts: 3

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

A truly powerful story & beautifully written. The history of Vietnam is devastating & to end up Communist after all of that is sad. The characters are very real as are the circumstances.


Posted Mar. 19, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
vickic

Join Date: 09/15/14

Posts: 67

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I absolutely loved it. I grew up hearing the news about the war in Vietnam and had friends who ended up in the military there during the war. This book gave me perspective as to what the war was like for ordinary Vietnamese trying to live their lives and raise their families. In beautiful prose, the author allowed me as a reader to truly feel what growing up must have been like in such a difficult era. I cannot imagine how frightening it must be as a parent to wonder just how you will keep your children alive and safe, much less how to prevent them from starving.


Posted Mar. 19, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
christineb

Join Date: 10/13/11

Posts: 93

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I thought it was an incredible story of endurance, family love and courage. It gave me a much better understanding of what the North Vietnamese were dealing with. The author did a superb job of making all the characters so believable in their life struggles. It was painful, poignant, and yet beautiful. It will make you cry at the resilience and small joys in their lives. I would highly recommend this book.


Posted Mar. 19, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lynnel

Join Date: 10/25/17

Posts: 13

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

Overall, I enjoyed the way the novel introduced readers to the culture and history of Vietnam Nam in ways that reflect the very personal way war and political conflicts impact every day life of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. I particularly enjoyed the evocation of places, the aromas of food and the sights and sounds of a time and place distant from my own.


Posted Mar. 19, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 462

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I really liked the book and have recommended it to several friends already.This book draws readers of any background into the story immediately. It reminded me of my immediate positive reaction years ago to another book about this same era which I learned about here on BookBrowse- In the Shadow of the Banyan. Reading The Mountains Sing made me think about the horrifying photos from Vietnam of maimed children, burned bodies, local people screaming and running down dirt roads in agony - both physical and mental. So many of the Vietnamese people lived in simple rural villages, growing their own food and had no idea what all of the politics were about. It is a sad chapter in history for many reasons, but an incredible book.


Posted Mar. 20, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
peggya

Join Date: 06/03/15

Posts: 41

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

Vietnam was such a pivotal event in my coming of age in the early 70’s. I remember going to lectures, demonstrations, and only associating with people of similar political views. In all these posturings, I never really felt any personal connection to the Vietnamese people. This book changed all that for me. It fleshed out the horrendous conditions that these people endured for such a long time. It was very eye opening for me.


Posted Mar. 20, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ireneh

Join Date: 11/22/19

Posts: 29

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I agree with each of the other members that The Mountains Sing, sings a song of human beings trapped in events beyond their power to change and struggling to survive. In her evocative and descriptive prose, the author shows us the hearts and souls of a people who were just news or magazine articles to us.
This is particularly true because the story focuses on a North Vietnamese family, rather than our so-called "allies", in the south. I don't think I ever felt empathy for the followers of Ho Chih Min until I was able to look into their lies and their suffering. Their love of each other and family was so beautifully portrayed that they became real to me and their suffering reminded me of the evils perpetrated by well-meaning, but culture-blind nations determined to impose their own form of government on others, no matter the cost.


Posted Mar. 20, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
christineb

Join Date: 10/13/11

Posts: 93

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

irene- you beautifully summarized my feelings for this novel!


Posted Mar. 20, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
paulagb

Join Date: 08/16/17

Posts: 136

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I really enjoyed this book. I knew so little of the history of this part of the world It is well written and seems to be a good representation of the fates of many living in North Vietnam. Life can deteriorate suddenly and change completely. We in America have been very fortunate.


Posted Mar. 20, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
catherynez

Join Date: 01/27/18

Posts: 64

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I really enjoyed the book too. I didn’t know much about the history of Vietnam. It was very well written and interesting. It was sad how they endured separation from family, hotrible deaths and terrible situations. As an American, it was interesting to
see the viewpoint of a northern Vietnamese family and how the foreign interferences influenced the Vietnamese people on both sides. They really had a difficult time. I admired the grandmother. She was such a strong character.


Posted Mar. 21, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
melissa c.

Join Date: 01/10/21

Posts: 47

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I loved this book. I am a huge fan of multigenerational tales especially from other countries and cultures. Funny, I hated history in school. Maybe this is my way of making up for lost time.
I was mesmerized by the families' stories and found myself transported to different times and different places in Viet Nam. While the war certainly played a significant role in the book, the effects of the war, politics, class and other social factors on the family and families took center stage and really shaped the tales told.


Posted Mar. 21, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janegmorrison

Join Date: 03/21/21

Posts: 2

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I thought it was very well told. I learned so much about the reality of life in Viet Nam. Very powerful story


Posted Mar. 22, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
alycet

Join Date: 04/23/12

Posts: 160

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I enjoyed this book. It humanized the life of ordinary people in the time of war. The book shows that everyone involved is a victim.


Posted Mar. 22, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Shahido

Join Date: 03/22/21

Posts: 2

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

Loved this book. It was not only a wonderful entertaining book to read but I learned so much by reading it If more people could read and understand what war is like for both sides perhaps we might have a chance to stop it. Today, not allowing food to be delivered to starving people is so inhuman. There can not be any cause important enough to allow this to be happening.


Posted Mar. 22, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
johnw

Join Date: 03/11/12

Posts: 77

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

This novel is told through the eyes of a young girl, Guava, and her grandmother, Tran Dieu Lan. I highly recommend this book. The Mountains Sing is a beautifully written story, but not one easy to read. It provides a glimpse into the daily hardships that spans decades. The book is also filled with the hope, love and pride of the people of Vietnam. Many Americans only think of Vietnam in the context of American's involvement in the Vietnam War with little awareness of the people of Vietnam who suffered the ravages of war, loss of home and family.


Posted Mar. 23, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dorisk

Join Date: 10/20/10

Posts: 26

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I was fascinated with the book. It was well written and certainly brought the people to life. Without being just facts it gave a good overall picture of what the country has experienced. I knew France had played a part but didn’t know about the cruelty to the people. This is a great read. I will certainly bring it to the attention of my book club and others.


Posted Mar. 23, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kathrinc

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 2

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I was thoroughly impressed by this novel and the author's writing. The style is both simple and direct without unnecessary embellishments, and simultaneously brings the reader so close to the hearts and minds of Vietnamese people facing what seemed to be unsurmountable and unending challenges.


Posted Mar. 23, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marilynu

Join Date: 03/22/21

Posts: 9

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I don’t think there is anything I can say that hasn’t already been said. A remarkable story of the pain and hope of those who lived through such a painful journey. Such strength!


Posted Mar. 24, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
PKH

Join Date: 01/29/21

Posts: 34

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I also really enjoyed the book. The story was very powerful in telling the history and the character of the North Vietnamese people.


Posted Mar. 24, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rosemaryk

Join Date: 08/29/11

Posts: 56

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

Overall, I loved this book.

I was surprised, since I didn't feel especially interested in the story. However, I was wrong. Everything was explained so well--so many human elements were presented. I was completely caught up in the story--from everyone's point of view.

I appreciate that this book exists. I'm grateful now to know so much more.

I will be advising my friends who read to seek out this remarkable story from Vietnam.


Posted Mar. 24, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
windellh

Join Date: 11/05/17

Posts: 59

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I really enjoyed this book. A great story of human endurance, loyalty and love. When I was involved in the war (navy) we were off shore with no contact. It was more like a job with little concern for the citizens. We were detached from the real action. This story was a real eye opener of the cruelty of war and nobody wins.


Posted Mar. 25, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
cassandraw

Join Date: 09/02/20

Posts: 7

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

Poetic and beautifully written. One of my favorite books.

Here is my favorite excerpt: "I turned to the fire. Human lives were short and fragile. Time and illnesses consumed us, like flames burning away these pieces of wood. But it didn't matter how long or short we lived. It mattered more how much light we were able to shed on those we loved and how many people we touched with our compassion."


Posted Mar. 25, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ColoradoGirl

Join Date: 05/16/16

Posts: 103

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

This is a beautifully written story about a part of the world I don't know much about. The author did an amazing job of creating characters that I grew to care for and I wanted to see what happened to each of them. Family, loyalty, politics -- these all play a part in creating this memorable story. I enjoyed it!


Posted Apr. 01, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
camillaw

Join Date: 09/24/15

Posts: 1

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I'm drawn to books by debut authors. This one didn't disappoint. Seeing the Vietnam war from the perspective of their countrymen confirmed my belief that there are no just wars. All soldiers and their families are to be pitied for the senseless death and destruction.


Posted Apr. 02, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
MHRussell

Join Date: 08/08/19

Posts: 4

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

As a teenager, watching the news during the Viet Nam war, I was horrified by the treatment of the non combative Viet Namese population. War is a horror and no binary telling of it, with good guys and bad guys, is helpful.
Reading about it from the narritive of the Vietnamese people, especially those completely powerless to stop what was happening to them, is sobering and heartbreaking. These are the books we all need to read.


Posted Apr. 02, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
CCC

Join Date: 02/14/19

Posts: 2

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

A quick read. If you like reading historical books, you will enjoy this book. The book contains was interesting fictionalized facts. What I liked most about the book is reading about the historical events and getting to know each of the characters bearing their souls to the readers. I would recommend the book to others.


Posted Apr. 03, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
betsyc

Join Date: 03/17/21

Posts: 5

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I will definitely be going down a rabbit hole of other novels in this country and era as well as look to other Vietnamese writers ....opened up my eyes to some other truths and lies that I had thought what happened in the country pre-war, war and post war.


Posted Apr. 04, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Suzanne

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 277

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

An interesting story with so many things about Vietnamese culture that I hadn’t known. A beautifully written saga.


Posted Apr. 05, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
MimiJo

Join Date: 02/28/20

Posts: 24

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I chose this book because it was a period of history I lived through and had much influence in my young married life. My husband was in the Navy and made three tours to Vietnam, our first child was born in the middle of his service. It was such an unpopular war that those who served were never honored and this affected his whole life. I wanted to know more about the country and people of Vietnam and this book certainly delivered on that. The main focus of this book for me was the people not fighting as soldiers, but trying to hold down the family home and just have enough to feed and take care of the families. Very eye opening and I will be recommending this to some of my friends.


Posted Apr. 07, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
tswaine

Join Date: 09/14/11

Posts: 75

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I really enjoyed this book! I didn't know much about Vietnam and their culture. I read it in just a few days and recommend it to all my friends!


Posted Apr. 11, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jodig

Join Date: 06/07/15

Posts: 30

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I loved this book. The relationship development, the depiction of all of the horrors this family endured over a period of several decades, the perspective from people living in N Vietnam. It was a wonderfully written story and an important tale to read.


Posted Apr. 11, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
debra

Join Date: 09/02/20

Posts: 23

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

This is a lovely book. I enjoyed and learned from this historical narrative. Most of the novels I have read take place in, or are from the perspective of the South. To consider those of the north, who were not Communists, was enlightening.


Posted Apr. 13, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
djcminor

Join Date: 03/14/19

Posts: 123

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I was completely taken with the book. I could hardly stop reading. I have also recommended the book to a number of friends. All of them who took up my recommendation have also enjoyed the book.


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