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

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There are currently 27 reader reviews for The Mountains Sing
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Randi H. (Bronx, NY)

Engrossing family tale
Since visiting Vietnam prior to the U.S. establishing diplomatic relations with the country, I have been drawn to books that are set in the country. So I was quite excited to read The Mountains Sing. I very much enjoyed this look at the history of Vietnam in the 20th century, as told through the experiences of a girl and her grandmother. I found the perspectives of this North Vietnamese family especially fascinating, as so much of the literature has a pro-Western bent. My only quibble with the book was the alternating viewpoint chapters. I found it distracting for the first half of the book. I was unable to totally lose myself in the story when I had to figure out with each chapter what was going on and who the characters were again.

Nonetheless, I would absolutely recommend this book. Especially now, as both the U.S. and much of the world seem to be slipping into divisiveness, it's so important to remember another time in our past when such divisiveness reigned.
Jane D. (Cincinnati, OH)

Lessons from Viet Nam
" I realized war is monstrous - if it didn't kill those it touched, it took away a piece of their souls, so they could never be whole again "

The writing in this book is sometimes beautiful and often brutal as it reveals a history of Tran family in Vietnam, giving the reader a vivid account of what it was like to live through the Land Reforms of the Communist party, the Vietnam War and its aftermath. The very strong women characters end up sacrificing everything including giving up their children, their dreams. their homes and livelihoods to try and keep their family together during the years when their country was torn apart and everything they knew was changing. It is a story of strong family love, perseverance, bravery and extraordinary acts of kindness by complete strangers.

This novel will break your heart but at the end it is an amazing story of endurance and you come away with an understanding of what it was like for those living in Vietnam during the war.

An interesting and emotional read although you have to pay attention as the author chose to go back and forth every chapter from the 1940s and 50s to the years after the war. It takes a little concentration to keep all the characters and time lines straight but it is worth the effort.
Judy K. (Montgomery, TX)

A new perspective
I grew up in the sixties so many of my classmates were drafted into the Vietnam war. Many died in those jungles, boys that I knew. All these years later, I still had an instant, knee-jerk, bitter taste for all things related to that war that "wasn't a war". Why I even chose to read this book is a mystery to my very own self. I think, perhaps, I was ready to try and understand a new perspective, that in my 70's, I've finally learned that war is abominable for both sides. The Mountains Sing relives the horror, the tragedy and the human spirit to survive with what seems like first-hand knowledge. Nguyen Phan Que Mai tells the story of one family as they try to survive not only the war with America but the civil war after. The story is heart-breaking but, at the end, makes us believe that redemption and forgiveness are the only way forward. Maybe we all need to hear the rest of the story.

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