Thursday, July 30, 2009

Review: Short Girls by Bich Minh Nguyen

Short Girls Cover
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.

Rating: 4.75/5
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.



Amy

16 comments:

Sandy Nawrot said...

Wow! 4.75 out of 5! I guess I'm an average height, so these things don't cross my mind. And I don't even give a thought to anyone's height, but I do hear people, even deep into their adult years, talk about all their baggage related to being short. My daughter's best friend is a good 6 to 8 inches shorter than anyone else in the class. In the land of theme parks that I live, she can't ever ride anything that the rest of the kids do. She is perpetually crying over it. Poor thing.

Julie P. said...

I thought this book looked amazing and you just confirmed it for me. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

Beth F said...

I'm definitely short -- always the shortest kid in class. My height has pretty much been an non-issue for me my whole life. Sounds like a book worth reading.

bermudaonion said...

I'm second generation American on my mother's side, so this book sounds wonderful to me.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

This sounds so interesting. Thanks for the review!

Holly said...

This one sounds interesting. Great review!

writemeg said...

Wow -- this sounds fantastic! I love stories about siblings, especially sisters, so I was immediately sucked into your review. The premise sounds really different, and I like the cover art -- the boldness of the white space! :) That's my interest in design coming out there, though.

I've been 5'2" since I was 12, so I guess -- in a way -- I've struggled a bit with my height. My problems mostly stem from having a hard time buying pants, though, so I can't genuinely complain too much! :) And I try to get my dad or tall boyfriends to help me out with hanging artwork high up, etc.! :)

Book Escape said...

This does sound like a really good one. I love character driven novels. And, the short people aspect sounds interesting and fun (and I can relate at just 5'1''!)

ANovelMenagerie said...

Wow... Amy you and I definitely did not feel the same way about this book. I gave it a 7/10. It was well written, but it just couldn't hold my attention. Although, there were some parts that really did. Here's my review: http://anovelmenagerie.com/2009/07/15/book-review-short-girls/

S. Krishna said...

I'm really glad you enjoyed this one because I got not one, but two surprise copies of it in the mail! I'm looking forward to reading it now!

Diane said...

This sounds really good. Thanks for pointing it out.

Kacie said...

I think I'll try it!

samantha.1020 said...

This sounds like an amazing read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it!

Veens said...

wow, I definitely need to get to this one! sounds so good!

Serena said...

I;m still waiting on this copy from Library Thing. I haven't received it yet, and now I want to read it even more after reading your review.

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

I haven't heard of this one before, but it sounds really good. I'm adding it to my list!

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