The Mountains Sing is a bittersweet family saga of the Tran family in north Vietnam. Alternating between Huong and her grandmother, Dieu Lan’s, perspectives, we follow some notable moments in Vietnam’s history as well as the outcome and effect to the people living there at that time. Dieu Lan and her family were victims of the Land reform in the north. They lost everything when the communist government came to power and were forced to flee. They soon settled and started a new life in Hanoi. Fifty years later, Vietnam is at war again. Huong grieves for the loss of her parents.
I liked the characters in this book, the different journeys, trials and hardships they each had to face and the emphasis on how important family is. Dieu Lan is my new favorite character. I loved her. I loved how resilient and resolute she was despite the horrible choices she had to make in order for her and her children to survive. Oh, the love of a mother!
I loved Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s writing. It felt very personal while reading. It felt like Dieu Lan and Huong were speaking to me directly. It made me feel the pain, how unbearable the situation was during the war, how injustice affected a lot of people, but they tried their best to live, to keep on going.
This is a family saga filled with heartbreak and tragedy. But it is also full of hope and love. It’s the kind of book that can make you feel.
“I realized that war was monstrous. If it didn’t kill those it touched, it took away a piece of their souls, so they could never be whole again.”
“Whenever humans failed us, it was nature who could help save us.”
“The more I read, the more I became afraid of wars. Wars have the power to turn graceful and cultured people into monsters.”
“Human lives were short and fragile. Time and illnesses consumed us, like flames burning away these pieces of wood. But it didn’t matter how long or short we lived. It mattered more how much light we were able to shed on those we loved and how many people we touched with our compassion.”
“The challenges faced by Vietnamese people are as tall as the tallest mountains. If you stand too close, you won’t be able to see their peaks. Once you step away from the currents of life, you will have the full view.”