Short Girls – Bich Minh Nguyen

Title: Short Girls
Author: Bich Minh Nguyen
ISBN: 9780670020812
Pages: 304
Release Date: July 23, 2009
Publisher: Viking Adult
Genre: Multicultural Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 out of 5

From the publisher’s website:

Van and Linny Luong are as baffling to each other as their parents’ Vietnamese legacy is to them both. Van, the quintessential overachiever, has applied the same studied diligence to her law career and marriage—a beau idéal that vaporized when Mr. Right walked out. Linny—pretty, fashionable, untethered—is grasping for purpose when her affair with a married man takes a humiliating turn. Each is the last person her sister would call, but when Mr. Luong summons them home for his American citizenship party, Van and Linny find themselves communing about their past—their late mother, their father’s obsession with his Luong Arm invention, even the irony of their romantic straits. As these unlikely confidantes chart the uncertainty that defines them, they forge a tentative new relationship and the wherewithal to overcome disappointment.

I thought Short Girls sounded like an extremely interesting book, but I didn’t make it a top priority when I received it from the publisher. I figured I would get to it eventually. However, I read a beautiful review of Short Girls at My Friend Amy’s Blog that made up my mind – I moved the book to the top of the stack and made it a point to read it as soon as possible.

I really loved Short Girls. It’s a quiet, contemplative book about so many different things. On one hand, it’s about the immigrant experience, about the Vietnamese adjusting to life in America. Linny and Van both struggle with reconciling their Vietnamese heritage with the American culture they have come to adopt as adults. The depiction of immigrant culture is very compelling; Van’s work as an immigration lawyer provides a conduit to discuss a variety of issues within this novel. Van takes her work personally; when one of her clients is deported, she feels it as deeply as if it were a member of her family.

However, Short Girls is also a novel about Linny and Van, individually as well as together. Each has their own troubles to face, though neither seems to be doing so at the beginning of the novel. They are both biding their time, trying to avoid facing the harsh realities of their lives. It is only when they begin to connect once again, when they start to rely on one another as sisters, that they have the strength to actually deal with what life has thrown at them. It’s a beautiful and moving commentary on the connection between sisters and the strength they can draw from one another.

Bich Minh Nguyen’s writing in Short Girls is simple, yet beautiful. She uses two different voices to tell her story, which is very effective. Through her writing, she gives Van and Linny their own identities. Even if you don’t pay attention to who is narrating the current chapter, it is easy to tell that simply through the tone of the writing. It’s a huge part of why the character development in Short Girls is so well done and why the book works as a character driven novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed every second I spent with Short Girls; my only regret is that there wasn’t more of it to read. Though there were many serious issues discussed within its pages, it was never heavy or difficult to read. Instead, it’s an uplifting novel, a beautiful tribute to the bond between sisters and the pull of your cultural heritage.

Comments

  1. Oh poo! I should have taken this one. It sounds absolutely amazing! Great review!

  2. Oh poo! I should have taken this one. It sounds absolutely amazing! Great review!

  3. Thank you for the review. You keep my TBR growing. lol
    Jo Ann Hernandez
    Bronzeword Latino Authors
    http://authorslatino.com/wordpress

  4. Thank you for the review. You keep my TBR growing. lol
    Jo Ann Hernandez
    Bronzeword Latino Authors
    http://authorslatino.com/wordpress

  5. Between your review and Amy’s I really want to read this one. I saw the audio at my library, but for some reason it doesn’t appeal to me on audio.

  6. Between your review and Amy’s I really want to read this one. I saw the audio at my library, but for some reason it doesn’t appeal to me on audio.

  7. This sounds like the perfect book for me since I love immigrant stories!

  8. This sounds like the perfect book for me since I love immigrant stories!

  9. Yay! I got this one from BookMooch after reading Amy’s review, too, and I’m really eager to read it! Definitely sounds like something I would enjoy — I love novels about sisters!

  10. Yay! I got this one from BookMooch after reading Amy’s review, too, and I’m really eager to read it! Definitely sounds like something I would enjoy — I love novels about sisters!

  11. Great review I’ll add it to my list. I love stories about sisters/families reconnecting and the immigrant experience sounds interesting too.

  12. Great review I’ll add it to my list. I love stories about sisters/families reconnecting and the immigrant experience sounds interesting too.

  13. Great review! I’ll have to add this book to my wishlist.

  14. Great review! I’ll have to add this book to my wishlist.

  15. Yay! I loved this book so much and I really think she’s an author to watch.

  16. Yay! I loved this book so much and I really think she’s an author to watch.

  17. After reading what both you and Amy thought, I see that I’m going to have make this a must read.

  18. After reading what both you and Amy thought, I see that I’m going to have make this a must read.

  19. I will have to put this book on my wish list. I grew up about 5 miles from Bich Minh Nguyen. I read her memoir Stealing Buddha’s Dinner. I have mixed feelings about it, so I didn’t really think much about her fiction. Great review!

  20. I will have to put this book on my wish list. I grew up about 5 miles from Bich Minh Nguyen. I read her memoir Stealing Buddha’s Dinner. I have mixed feelings about it, so I didn’t really think much about her fiction. Great review!

  21. I liked this one too – great review!

  22. I liked this one too – great review!

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