Tran Dieu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Ha Noi, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country but also her family apart.
It hurt to read this book and it hurts like hell to put it down and it’s one of these books that gives me a massive book hangover, the kind where I look at all my other novels and feel defeated because right now I just need to stop feeling.
The Mountains Sing is a story told by two interwoven voices. There’s a young girl in the 1970s at the close of the Vietnam war, who sees the grownups coming back from the front diminished, both mentally and physically, and who wonders if her parents will ever be back. In the meantime, she lives with her grandmother. The second part of the novel is set in the 1950s, just after the First Indochina War, when it’s hard to figure out whether one should flee the French or the Communists more, because both want her dead. It’s told by the grandmother, who tells her granddaughter what happened to their family twenty years prior.
I think it might be the first time that every chapter has me excited (?) for the next chapter in this voice. Both storylines were equally compelling and worked so well together. It was so good to read a book that wasn’t just about the Americans, but also about resisting the French and about having the hardest time “choosing sides” in a war that nobody wants to wage.