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The Mountains Sing

Narrated by: Quyen Ngo
Length: 10 hrs and 44 mins
4.8 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee's Pachinko and Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner's In the Shadow of the Banyan, The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War.

Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart.

Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope. The Mountains Sing is celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai's first novel in English. 

©2020 Dreamscape Media, LLC (P)2020 Dreamscape Media, LLC

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gregory Barbee
  • 2020-03-23

Incredible first English language novel

I adore this novel. The subject matter, the endurance, perseverance, redemption, triumphs and tribulations of a Vietnamese family from the 1930s to the near present, challenged me in ways I admire. Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai's talent as a poet shines through in this needed historical novel. The novel, which Quế Mai took 7 years (and a lifetime of experience) to write, evokes strong, heart wrenching emotions while beautifully supplying a context within which the two main characters (Trần Diệu Lan, the indomitable grandmother, and Hương, her granddaughter) navigate trial after trial to their country, their family and their lives. The book is a fast read given the well-developed characters and the pacing, but I found myself slowing down to relish the story. I wish I could give this book 6 stars. It is that beautifully written and that important. I cared enough for the Trần family that serval vignettes brought literal tears to my eyes. I wanted to MEET these people and hug them and help them and know them even more. To that end, I found myself wanting a sequel!! Hương in the present day world and her further journey toward self-realization? The parallel story of HươNg’s father? I just want MORE of these characters/family/writing. (This even prompted me to order one of Quế Mai’s books of poetry, The Secret of Hoa Sen.) This wonderful novel, its family and its depiction of Vietnam will stay with me for a long time. The book has garnered copious rave reviews and awards, and all are so very well deserved. Finally, a note on the audiobook (I purchased it as well, so I could continue with the story during my daily commute): Quyen Ngo takes Quế Mai’s poetic prose and renders it lyrical. I found myself wanting to revisit portions of the book I had already read so that I could savor Quyen’s narration. I hope she narrates more, because I would buy a book on the strength of her involvement alone. In short: buy this book (in any format). I loved it so much, I’ve already bought multiple copies as gifts for others. It is THAT incredible.

58 people found this helpful

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  • ireadreviews
  • 2020-05-02

I would give this book six stars if I could

I *rarely* read fiction. This caught my attention during a radio interview with the author and I am so grateful. What an amazingly captivating memoir. Many times I caught myself with my jaw dropped, my heart aching for the family and what they went through. To hear what the Tran family faced over generations was truly a needed eye opener for this American. I make it a point to try and see from different perspectives and this certainly helped me see through new eyes. My mind was so alive with imagery during this listen. I recommend it to anyone and everyone. As another reader said, I am putting off the final hour because I don't want it to end. I'm sure the next listen won't be this good.

34 people found this helpful

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  • Kevin j shutt
  • 2020-07-02

Highly Recommend

I'm half-Vietnamese so this spoke to me. I grew up American with Viet influence from my mom, who didn't speak regularly of her life there or potentially omitted tougher memories. This book helps me to better understand her culture, my cultural history, and her growing up under wartime circumstances. I only listened to the book while driving and thus my mind sometimes wandered making it hard to follow when the voice changed from the granddaughter's to the grandmother's. But that's on me.

23 people found this helpful

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  • wiscmom
  • 2020-05-02

Well written and ultimately.. heartwarming!

This story was especially meaningful to me because I grew up in the Philippines and used to fly through Saigon on my way to high school in Singapore in the later 1960’s. The story is well written and makes the history of Vietnam come to life. It also gives an understanding of the issues in, and effects of, the Vietnam war on that country. There are many parts that are hard to hear, but the triumph of loyalty and love to family and long time friends is heartwarming.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Crazy Wife Farm
  • 2020-04-06

A woman’s tale of Vietnam

A heart wrenching saga of one woman’s family through three generations as Vietnam is invaded by Japan, then torn by Communism and destroyed by the French and American war with its horrific bombing and Agent Orange. We see how the politics of dogma and imperialism destroy lives. But it’s also a beautiful story of a mother who saves her children and risks everything to build a new life for them. The narrator performs each voice with warmth and clarity. Very satisfying storytelling.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Jessica
  • 2020-06-18

Stunning.

Extraordinary. Beautiful. You won't regret reading it. My gratitude to the author and performer for their work.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-06-16

Beautifully written and read!

The actor’s voice and authentic language skills. Written like poetry. I never knew much about Vietnam or it’s people. I actually have a friend who emigrated to the US from Vietnam.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Carol Squire
  • 2020-07-08

Expansive. Poetic. Moving.

Simply presented, the whole of the tragedy the Vietnamese people endured. And they did endure.

7 people found this helpful

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  • OwlLover
  • 2020-06-22

Compelling, rich, satisfying

This is a beautiful, though painful, story. The characters are compelling, and there is enough to keep the reader interested in each story thread and timeline. It is woven together in a less than obvious way. The performance is excellebt, the narrator able to make the different characters distinct. It concludes without rushing to the end or to make it pretty. This is a satisfying listen.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Ocean Lilies
  • 2020-07-18

Great Format

Lovely narration of a beautiful story. I listened to it quickly and found it very interesting.

5 people found this helpful