Reader reviews and comments on The Mountains Sing, plus links to write your own review.

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The Mountains Sing

by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai X
The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai
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  • Published:
    Mar 2020, 352 pages


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There are currently 24 reader reviews for The Mountains Sing
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Mary G. (North Royalton, OH)

Sing the praise
No story of a war can be told in black and white, one side right and one wrong yet that is how such things are often viewed. Perhaps we've not stepped away far enough to allow for a more sympathetic view of Viet Nam. The Mountains Sing provides a view of the culture, history, language, and family life that is completely enthralling. The reader is drawn into the heart of the country and its struggles through the family trying to do more than just survive, but to live with love and hope,The examples of respect and honors for ancestors, devotion to family, and persistence in the face of incredible odds are lessons for all. The hope and love shine through in this emotionally fulfilling novel. I look forward to hearing more from Nguyen Phan Que Mai either in new books or translations of some of her previous works.
Margaret A. (Cornelius, NC)

The Mountains Sing
I am familiar with the Vietnam war only from an American perspective. This story is beautifully and compellingly told by Nguyen Phan Que Mai whose family lived through Vietnam's 20th century history starting with the Land Reform, Communist rule and the Vietnam war.

Through a grandmother and granddaughter's stories we learn how three generations of one family were affected by politics and war Their neighbors turn on them and one another; crops and forests were being destroyed and family members turned against one another. This is an intimate telling of a family's beliefs, culture, struggles, loss and despair and through it all the ever present love and hope.
Molly K. (San Jose, CA)

A Family Story
A beautifully written tragic story of countries at war and the families that suffered. Here, in the United States, we have not seen war for over 150 years. For most of us, war happens there, not here. We read about it and care about it, but we do not live it. Fortunate is a word not strong enough for most of us living in America.

Nguyen Phan Que Mai gives us characters with depth and a story line that is filled with action, insight, and discovery. Written in first person and unfolding back and forth between two time periods, it sometimes took me a page or two to figure out who was talking. The family tree was very helpful, and it might have been a bit more so had there been a pronunciation guide for Vietnamese script. Regardless, these are people I will remember for a long time.

Thank you for a wonderful read. I will share this treasure with my friends.
Gloria F. (York, PA)

An awe-inspiring tale of courage
Nguyen Phan Que Mai's "The Mountains Sing" is a heart-wrenching story of three generations of women devastated by war. In the same vein as "All Quiet On The Western Front," we learn about the Vietnam War from the prospective of the North Vietnamese, our "enemy," and discover again that war hurts all, and that there are no winners. I was especially awed by the strength, courage and intelligence of Tran Diet Lan, the matriarch of the Tran family. She shares her story with her young granddaughter, Huong, whose father has not returned from the war and whose mother is traumatized by her own war experiences. There is no one in the family not touched by the evils of war. But they have such strong love for each other. "The Mountains Sing" is truly inspiring.
Karen S. (Epping, NH)

The Mountains Sing
This is one of the best books I've read in a long time! The author Nguyen Phan Que Mai is a poet and it shows in her beautiful prose. Growing up in the 70s I'm fully aware of the horror that is called the Vietnam War. I've read books about the War but from the American perspective this book brings us the struggles of Vietnam starting with the Land Reform, Communists rule and finally the Vietnam War through the eyes of a North Vietnamese family, Dieu Lan her six children and her granddaughter Huong. The story weaves back and forth in time as Dieu Lan tells her granddaughter of the families struggles. At times hard to read and I had to put this book down because the story was so tragic. Vietnam came to life to me as I was reading I could see the lush landscape, smell the food and unfortunately feel the heartbreak of war. I highly recommend this book and I think it will be on allot of Best of Books 2020. At least I hope so! I would like to thank BookBrowse and Algonquin Books for this Advanced Readers Copy. And the opportunity to do a First Impressions Review.
Patricia A. (Estero, FL)

The Mountains Sing
The Mountains Sing, is a gorgeously written story of love and devotion between a grandmother and her granddaughter during the Vietnam War. The war brings a tremendous loss to the countryside, destroying fields, crops, and forests, and the people.

Although leaders declare war its people suffer and families are torn apart, while neighbors turn against one another. Wounds of war are not only physical but those who live though them continue to suffer. It destroys not only the body but the spirit and soul.

This book begins when Tran Dieu is forced off the family farm during the Land Reform and at the rise of the Communist government in the North. Tran flees with her six children but because of the violent attacks and severe starvation loses them one after another in order to save their lives. She continues to search for each of them until she is able to bring those who survive together.

The language is vivid and poetic while showing us the cost in lives during a violent war. However, we also are shown the importance of family, kindness, love and hope for the future.
Susan T. (Bahama, NC)

Timely in light of current events
I wasn't expecting to like this book as much as I did. It focuses on one extended family in Vietnam, alternating back and forth in time between the Land Reform in the 1940s and the Vietnam War and its aftermath in the 1970s. The themes revolve around war, fear and hatred, and family, love, mercy and forgiveness, and finally, survival. I learned much more about Vietnam history than I knew before, but more importantly, as a Westerner and an American, it shows a point of view from a different side. In the end, we are essentially all the same and we sometimes we react badly with hate and fear, and sometimes heroically, with love and forgiveness when our lives and way of living are threatened. I think this book highlights how alike people are regardless of which side of a war or government you fall. Perhaps if we could learn and remember that, maybe we would avoid the horrors of war more often.
Chris H. (Wauwatosa, WI)

The Mountains Sing
This is a wonderful book telling the multigenerational story of a Vietnamese family who lived in Vietnam during that war. It is so important to read about the experiences of a family whose own country is taken over by war. How did the Land Reform and Communist government affect them? How did the family have to adapt when they were forced out of their homes and villages? So many questions to ask and have answered. This book tells us about the Vietnam war in ways we could only imagine.
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