Thursday, March 7, 2019

Booklist Starred Review

Starred Review

Catherine Rossi's dream, in 1987, is to find the remains of her son, Lieutenant Nicola Rossi, the only American unaccounted for after a deadly firefight in Vietnam in 1967. So she travels to the Mekong Delta with her daughter, Chi Lan, 18, adopted from a Catholic Vietnamese orphanage when she was five. At the small inn where the Rossis stay, employee Le Giang believes Mrs. Rossi's quest is highly unlikely to be fulfilled, but he comes to treasure the companionship of Chi Lan. The narration alternates between the voices of Lieutenant Rossi in 1967 and Le Giang, in the present of 1987, a man born and conscripted in the north who defected to the army of the south, then was imprisoned for "reeducation" in the north for 10 years. Both men describe the horrors and deprivations of war, along with the bonds of fellowship forged, as well as the natural beauty and dangers of the country, on the way to a healing climax. Ha's prose is so clear and vivid, whether describing a dying soldier's wounds or local flora and fauna, and his message is so powerfully understated that this beautifully written novel should have a place alongside the best fiction of the Vietnam War.Booklist 

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