What readers think of The Mountains Sing, plus links to write your own review.

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Discuss |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

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
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2020, 352 pages
    Mar 2021, 368 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book


Page 2 of 4
There are currently 26 reader reviews for The Mountains Sing
Order Reviews by:

Write your own review!

Ora J. (Anacortes, WA)

The Mountains Sing
With power and poetry, Nguyen Phan Que Mai guided me onto lands and into cultures I had never before experienced. Her power was wielded by an excellent use of English, her second language. Poetry flowed from her Grandmother's songs and stories. The lives of three generations, revealed through the voices of grandmother and granddaughter, unfold in the turmoil of never-ending war. Her fresh imagery reflects a constant dependence on the earth for survival, passed down through generations of farmers.

Nguyen Phan invited me in to meet her people, to experience their joy, suffer their pain and understand their struggle to keep the dream of cultural survival alive. Wave after wave of community reorganization swept families caught in the currents of violence and cruelty from north to south and back again. The story covers time and events from 1930 to 1980 but not in chronological order. The time changes are clearly designated and further reflect the total disruption of life that took place, during the twentieth century, in Vietnam.
Lynn D. (Kingston, NY)

The Mountains Sing
This beautifully written historical novel tells the 20th century Vietnamese history of conflict, famine, and corruption, through the lives of a resilient and loving grandmother, born in 1920, and her granddaughter, born in 1960, who long for a world without war. Their struggles to survive, and stay a family, portray the impact war can have for many generations. For those of us who grew up during the American war in Vietnam, it is powerful that this story is told from the perspective of a family in North View Nam. There are moments of kindness and generosity in the midst of devastation which help sustain the Tran family. Huong, the granddaughter remains hopeful: "Somehow I was sure if people were willing to read each other, and see the light of other cultures, there would be no war on earth." Perhaps this story can inspire us to greater understanding and acceptance of each other.
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.

One-Month Free

Discover books that
entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Windhall
    by Ava Barry
    Ava Barry's debut mystery novel Windhall is centered around the salacious murder of a starlet named ...
  • Book Jacket: Libertie
    by Kaitlyn Greenidge
    Kaitlyn Greenidge burst onto the literary scene in 2016 with her award-winning novel, We Love You, ...
  • Book Jacket
    Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982
    by Cho Nam-joo, Jamie Chang
    'Kim Jiyoung is thirty-three years old, thirty-four Korean age. She got married three years ago and ...
  • Book Jacket
    A Good Neighborhood
    by Therese Anne Fowler
    After fictionalized biographies of Zelda Fitzgerald (Z, 2013) and Alva Vanderbilt (A Well-Behaved ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Widow Queen
    by Elzbieta Cherezinska

    The epic story of an 11th century Polish queen whose life and name were all but forgotten until now.

    Reader Reviews
  • Book Jacket

    Raft of Stars
    by Andrew J. Graff

    A timeless story of loss, hope, and adventure set against the vividly rendered landscape of the Upper Midwest.

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Mountains Sing
by Nguyen Phan Que Mai
Winner of the 2020 BookBrowse Debut Novel Award: A multi-generational tale set in Viet Nam.
Win This Book!
Win The Beauty of Your Face

A New York Times Notable Book of 2020

"Stunning.… A timely family saga with faith and forgiveness at its core."
Marie Claire



Solve this clue:

It's N S O M N

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.