Published by Vintage Canada on Sept 6, 2012
Genres: Adult, Historical fiction
Format: ARC from Publisher
Find the book: Amazon, Goodreads
Ru. In Vietnamese it means lullaby; in French it is a small stream, but also signifies a flow–of tears, blood, money. Kim Thúy’s Ru is literature at its most crystalline: the flow of a life on the tides of unrest and on to more peaceful waters. In vignettes of exquisite clarity, sharp observation and sly wit, we are carried along on an unforgettable journey from a palatial residence in Saigon to a crowded and muddy Malaysian refugee camp, and onward to a new life in Quebec. There, the young girl feels the embrace of a new community, and revels in the chance to be part of the American Dream. As an adult, the waters become rough again: now a mother of two sons, she must learn to shape her love around the younger boy’s autism. Moving seamlessly from past to present, from history to memory and back again, Ru is a book that celebrates life in all its wonder: its moments of beauty and sensuality, brutality and sorrow, comfort and comedy.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This story was told in a unique format: short vignettes that were often only a page or two in length. They felt only subtly connected, and didn’t always flow smoothly. This left the book with a disjointed feel, but the writing itself used beautiful language.
Without prior knowledge of Vietnam history, the story was a bit hard to follow as there was little background given. The story centred on people and the experiences that the main character had.
Overall, while I found the story moving and very personal, I couldn’t get into the format. It felt too disjointed without a proper story flow. The story would likely appeal more to literary-style readers.
There were two quotes that I really loved through:
“…love comes from the head and not the heart. Of the entire body, only the head matters.”
“If a mark of affection can sometimes be taken for an insult, perhaps the gesture of love is not universal: it too must be translated from one language to another, must be learned.”