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Posts Tagged ‘The Reeducation of Cherry Truong’

Tuesdays are hard for me. We have faculty meetings on Tuesdays which keep me at work up to two hours late add that to my 30 minute commute and any errands I have to run and the mess that I-77 leading into Charlotte becomes in the afternoons, then you’ll understand why it’s all I can do to eat a dinner and then fall asleep with the fork still in my mouth. My TTT will most likely come more and more on Wednesdays and usually a week later than what they are doing over at The Broke and The Bookish. (*note, I started this post on Wednesday night and I came into my office to look up a menu for a local Greek restaurant and discovered that I had never finished the post (a impromtu tennis game pulled me away mid-post Wednesday night) and so now you’ll see just how late I can be…)

I have read 69 (I know, right, that number seems so small) since I started Bookjackets in January 2011. Picking out ten favorites was harder than I thought that it would be! I started by circling the ones I loved and then I had to compare them up against each other and give them ratings based on things like “characterization” “plot” “readability”, etc. to get it narrowed down to the following ten:

10. If You Want Me To Stay by Michael Parker, Read February 7-8 2012, 5/5 Stars
I read this book for a program I was involved in at the local public library. The program involved a group of us reading the same book about some aspect of North Carolina culture and then inviting in a guest lecturer to discuss the book and the themes and the history of NC with us. This was my favorite book from the series.

9. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, Read February-March 2011, 4/5 Stars
This was another book that we read for the same NC Culture series, but I had read this one about a year before the series actually started. When my dad gave me a nook color for my 26th birthday this was the first book I read on the e-reader. Read more about that adventure here.

8. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, Read April 2011, 4/5 Stars
I read this book over spring break my first year of working as a librarian in public schools. I was back in my favorite town, Greensboro, NC where I had gone to college and graduate school and where my boyfriend was still in college and I loved the feeling of being “home” and I associate that feeling with this book. I also loved the book, it is a good mystery and our sleuth, Flavia De Luce, is such a scamp I dare you not to love her instantly.

7. The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games, Read November 2010, 5/5 Stars
Catching Fire, Read in April 2011, 5/5 Stars
Mockingjay, Read in May 2011, 4/5 Stars
Read about my love for this series here.

6. The Weight of Silence/These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
The Weight of Silence, Read in July 2011, 3/5 stars
These Things Hidden, Read in July 2011, 5/5 stars
I read these over the summer after my first year in public education. I had greatly disliked the first place I worked at and I was in the process of quitting and moving to a new place of employment. I was having a difficult time telling my uber-scary boss that I was splitting, but these books were such a good escape for me at the end of the day, I truly value them for helping me get through that rough time.

5. Bossypants by Tina Fey, Read in April 2012, 5/5 Stars
Just. So. Damn. Funny. And honest. I love Tina Fey. She is my celebrity crush. She is so beautiful and funny and smart and nerdy and I want to be her. I loved this book because it was purely Tina Fey being open and honest about what it’s like being a woman working in a man’s world.

4. The Reeducation of Cherry Truong by Aimee Phan, Read in in late January/Early February 2012, 4/5 Stars
I received a ARC of this book from St. Martin’s Press and I wanted to do a good job of reviewing it, even if I disliked the book. This was the first time I had been asked to review a book for the blog, so I knew I couldn’t blow it. I ended up loving the book and I was pretty pleased with the review I put out. Read the review here.

3. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, 5/5 Stars
I. Loved. This. Book. Read about how much I loved it here. I even voted it my #1 book of 2011!

2. A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash, Read in July 2012, 5/5 Stars
This is a more recent read. I had been hearing a little bit about it and I knew I wanted to read it because I love local authors and books set in my state. I was in love with this book from page one. Read my review here. Also, my book club has chosen to read this one in January 2013 and I’m hoping to get Cash to Skype with us, he tweeted me that he would!! Read the review here.

1. Becoming Odyssa by Jennifer Pharr Davis, Read in February 2011 , 5/5 Stars
Again, I am super partial to local authors and Jenn Pharr Davis is one of my favorites! This is the story of a gal who sets out to thru-hike the entire AT by herself and she accomplishes her goal and tells us about all of the incidents she survives in this awesome book. This is a fun read and an encouraging read. I recently saw that there is a new book out by her husband, Brew Davis, that chronicles the hike that landed her the world-record of the fastest thru-hike of the AT which she did in an amazing 46 days!

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How soft your fields so green, can whisper tales of gore, of how we calmed the tides of war. –Led Zepplin

March is just around the corner and with it comes some exciting things like warmer weather (even though it’s been pretty warm here in the south all winter this year), longer days and less Seasonal Affective Disorder from never seeing the sunshine, my birthday and the Ides of March (same day), the local Battle of the Books competition, and perhaps best of all, the release of Aimee Phan’s debut novel The Reeducation of Cherry Truong (Phan previously released a book of short stories, We Should Never Meet). St. Martin’s Press sent me an Advanced Reader Copy of this book last month and I devoured it.  This is a beautiful story of family, tragedy, culture and Vietnamese history that sweeps four countries, two continents and three generations.  Prior to reading this book, I have to admit that I had never heard of the reeducation camps that occurred inVietnam after the war and a Google search revealed some pretty awful truths about North Vietnam’s history.

The story is told in flashbacks from the perspectives of members from two Vietnamese families, the Vos and the Truongs.  After the Fall of Saigon in 1975 the two families split apart; the Vos head to American and the Truongs leave for France both via a refuge camp in Malaysia.  Sahn Truong leaves behind a disappointed family to take his wife, Tuyet Vo, and her family to America while the rest of the Truongs make their way to France.  Both family units struggle to maintain their culture and identity while integrating into their new societies and cultures.  Heartbreak and corruption is experienced by all characters in the new worlds. Cherry, the only member of the families who was actually born in the United States, is desperate to reconnect to her roots and with her brother who has moved back toVietnam following a tragedy. 

Taking place from 1979 to 2002, with a dozen characters and three generations who all experience their own form of reeducation, the book is a commentary on both the history of a country as well as what it means to be a family. The characters are all well developed and each has qualities that make them simultaneously loveable and loathed, in other words, human.

The book reads like a series of short stories that come together to paint a wonderful portrait of the immigrant experience.

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