Three Books that Take You Around the World

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Vietnam is the theme of two of our book recommendations today. The first is an extraordinary memoir by Lan Cao and her daughter Harlan Margaret Van Cao that is a powerful story of the American immigrant experience, and a very different perspective of the Vietnam war. The second, is a novel set in Vietnam during the war told thru the eyes of two teenagers. And the third, is a quirky funny novel set in Morocco that tells the story of a prostitute, her friends, her life, told with wit and poignancy.

A Gripping Tale

Three Books that Take You Around the World

A Bend in the River, by Libby Fischer Hellmann is a gripping tale of the Vietnam war viewed through the eyes of two teenaged Vietnamese sisters. They are the only survivors of an American attack on their village on the Mekong river. After making their way to Saigon they struggle to survive. Each deals with the emotional conflict in different ways and they become estranged. One becomes a bar girl in a GI nightclub, the other joins the Viet Cong. For ten years neither sister knows if the other is alive. Its a unique view of the war from the inside. Most Americans see the war through a strictly American lens. It’s a fascinating read.  Get the book.

An Engrossing Memoir on The American Immigrant Experience

Three Books that Take You Around the World

Family in Six Tones is a dual first-person memoir by the acclaimed Vietnamese American novelist and her thoroughly American teenage daughter. Lan Cao, a highly regarded lawyer for her expertise in international law, and acclaimed novelist,  who came to the U.S. in 1975, at the age of thirteen when she boarded one of the last flights out of Saigon and got off in a world where she faced hosts she had not met before, a language she didn’t speak, and food she didn’t recognize, with the faint hope that she would be able to go home soon. Lan fought her way through confusion, and racism, to become a successful lawyer and novelist. Four decades later, she faced the biggest challenge in her life: raising her daughter Harlan–half Vietnamese by birth and 100 percent American teenager by inclination. The book is profound and thought provoking on many levels. It is a memoir for our times. Get the book.

 A Colorful Portrait on the Life of a Sex Worker

Three Books that Take You Around the World

Straight from the Horse’s Mouth by Moroccan novelist Meryem Alaoui, was first published in France to critical acclaim.  She weaves a funny, witty and brutally honest tale about a thirty-four-year-old prostitute Jmiaa as she reflects on the bustling world around. Like many of the women in her working-class Casablanca neighborhood, Jmiaa struggles to earn enough money to support herself and her family—often including the deadbeat husband who walked out on her and their young daughter. If you’re looking for a witty escape into a totally different world, this is a novel that will do just that. Get the book.


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