This book was absolutely beautiful! I never understood when people would describe a book as elegantly written, but now I certainly do. Kim weaves a very heartbreaking yet optimistic story of a family that is trying to overcome the struggles that arise with the experiences of war and being uprooted from your home. Every word has its place and there is not one superfluous word in the entire book. She describes every scene with just enough description, leaving the reader to fill in the rest.
The story begins with our heroine being born into the destructive atmosphere that was the beginning of the Vietnam war – three years after my own mother was born, probably in the same tumultuous environment. It follows the life of Nguyen An Tinh and her voyage on a ship to Malaysia and then soon to Quebec, Canada. She describes her struggles that arise with the experiences of war and being uprooted from your home and then starting a new life in a strange country. Although her story is completely different than my own, her words still resonated with me, even though I was born decades later. I feel like I really connected with her on a deeper level because the emotions she described were a perfect reflection of my own apprehension and fear in such a strange place.
The line that really stuck with me is “Life is a struggle in which sorrow leads to defeat” (pg. 12). I think that is the epitome of the immigrant mantra. Although life is hard at times, when you give in to your despair is when you truly admit that you have lost the fight for a better life – a fight that you fought very hard for already. Kim Thuy composed an excellent example of the fight for the semblance of a normal life in a strange land and soon a place that you will eventually call home.