I’m a huge fan of Thanhha Lai, so when I saw this book on clearance at my favorite indie bookstore, I was more than eager to snatch it up. The description intrigued me, so I am glad that the book lived up to my high expectations. Lai is a really talented writer, and here she embodies several characters and voices that could not be more completely different.
Hằng is a young woman who has survived unspeakable horrors trying to get to the United States. At the end of the Việt Nam war, a misunderstanding permanently separates her from her little brother, Linh: he is shipped to the United States, while she is home. Her family tries for years to get to the US, and six years later, she finally makes it to Texas. While trying to find Linh, she crosses paths with LeeRoy, an aspiring cowboy with dreams of rodeo grandeur. Together, they make an unlikely pair of road warriors on a quest. Finding Linh seemed like the biggest challenge, but overcoming the obstacles ahead when they finally reach their destination will require every good quality they all possess.
This book is beautiful and wrenching in the same breath. Lai is a skilled writer who manages to deftly sidestep bathos while also highlighting injustices that the people of Việt Nam went through because of the war. Lai brings us to Hằng’s perspective through various voices, memories, and languages.