Author: Kim Thúy
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada
Release Date: April 10, 2018
The perfect complement to the exquisitely wrought novels Ruand Man , Canada Reads-winner Kim Thuy returns with Vi , once more exploring the lives, loves and struggles of Vietnamese refugees as they reinvent themselves in new lands.
The youngest of four children and the only girl, Vi was given a name that meant “precious, tiny one,” destined to be cosseted and protected, the family’s little treasure.
Daughter of an enterprising mother and a wealthy and spoiled father who never had to grow up, the Vietnam war tears their family asunder. While Vi and many of her family members escape, her father stays behind, and her family must fend for themselves in Canada.
While her mother and brothers put down roots, life has different plans for Vi. As a young woman, she finds the world opening up to her. Taken under the wing of Ha, a worldly family friend and diplomat lover, Vi tests personal boundaries and crosses international ones, letting the winds of life buffet her. From Saigon to Montreal, from Suzhou to Boston to the fall of the Berlin Wall, she is witness to the immensity of the world, the intricate fabric of humanity, the complexity of love, the infinite possibilities before her. Ever the quiet observer, somehow she must find a way to finally take her place in the world.
I’ve never read a Kim Thuy book before, but she’s won many awards. Her books are translated from French into English and Vietnamese. This makes it a unique experience since it is not in the original language. The language was still poetic and beautiful, so I don’t think anything was lost in the translation.
The story moved quickly. Everything in it was so new to me because I don’t know much about Vietnamese culture. There were small stories that weren’t about Vi’s family, but that framed the atmosphere in Vietnam at the time. One example was a story about a young couple who had a Romeo and Juliet style romance. At times the story was confusing because it jumped from one time and place to another, but the overall story was enjoyable.
The format of the story was confusing to me. I was reading an e-ARC, so it may have been a problem with my file, so I didn’t include this in my rating. I’m curious to see a hard copy of the book to see how it looks on paper.
I enjoyed this book and recommend it!