Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Reeducation of Cherry Truong: A Novel by Aimee Phan


Three stars.

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

The Reeducation of Cherry Truong is a haunting, dark story of three generations of a Vietnamese family. Having split up after their time in a refugee camp, this story is spread across three countries; the United States, France, and Vietnam. There is always a sense of darkness and mystery within this novel, each word and action having significance to a broader story than what originally meets the eye. Cherry, the main character of sorts, returns to her family's homeland of Vietnam, and it is only then that she can begin to piece together the shattered truths, delicately placed lies, and the true feelings and intentions of her severed, pained family.

Overall, I found this book to be alright. The detail was exquisite, and the plot was intriguing and dramatic, leaving me uncertain as to what would happen next. I was actually quite surprised that I found this book relatable- though my family has been in America for longer than the living remember, I understand the webs of deceit and the complex emotional relationships between characters, facades included. I am also very appreciative of the fact that there's a family tree included in the front of the novel. I found myself looking back at it quite often, and it made my reading experience easier.

That being said, there were certain aspects of this writing that I didn't enjoy so much. Before I could begin to comprehend my positive opinions of this book, I had to read 200 pages. Having finished the book, I understand why it drew out as it did, but it turned me off from wanting to complete the novel. Also, each chapter-like segment is told from a different perspective of the family, which helps the reader gain insight. These segments also jump in time, which I was okay with. But within each of these sections, I found that jumping between past and present with almost no transition made it hard for me to follow. In addition, I found it odd that Vietnamese words were italicized, but not defined. By drawing attention to these foreign words (foreign to me, at least) I expected there to be a glossary or footnotes, but there were none. I was able to figure out a rough idea using context clues, but detailed definitions would have been helpful and appreciated.

I think that this book is for sure worth reading once, but I won't be reading it again. It helps readers gain an insight into just how much a family can endure, or at least, how each family member copes with it, but ultimately it just didn't hold my attention the way I thought it would.


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