Short Girls is the story of Van and Linny, second generation Vietnamese American sisters. They are both quite different from each other...Van is ambitious and holds herself to impossibly high standards while Linny is the beautiful sister who hasn't quite figured out what she wants from life yet. Both sisters come to something of a crisis point in their lives (mostly centered around their relationships with men) and are forced to examine the lives they've been living. Their father is obsessed with the success of short people and quickly filled with rage at the idea of short people being discriminated against. This is both humorous and touching and has so greatly impacted the lives of his daughters that their sense of self is tightly connected to their height.
This is one of the best books I've read in a long while. While it's a relatively quiet character driven book, the characters are richly and masterfully drawn. I love when an author makes a character so consistent down to the small details of their lives and I marveled at just how fully we are able to know Linny and Van. I found that I could relate to both Van and Linny at times and in different ways. The language that Nguyen uses is so achingly beautiful and spot-on that at times I had to set the book and simply reflect.
Once I started reading, I did not want to put the book aside and I read it in one day. The little observations of character and life are so perfect! This is the kind of book that makes you confront yourself even as the characters are confronting themselves.
Sibling relationships, parental relationships, marriage, and identity are all explored in this book. I'm not going to lie to you...there's something that is so very sad about the book while at the same being so real. I was definitely in a melancholy mood today, but the book is one hundred percent worth it.
This is Bich Minh Nguyen's first novel. She has also written a memoir, Stealing Buddha's Dinner, that I know I saw another blogger review recently and that I will be finding just as soon as I can, in addition to eagerly awaiting more books from her pen.
Things You Might Want to Know: A very little bit of strong language.
Source of Book: ARC received from Penguin Viking.
Bich Minh Nguyen has a website you can visit to learn more about her, and also you can buy Short Girls on Amazon or in stores now.