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If You Lived Here

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3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  559 ratings  ·  95 reviews
At forty-two, Shelley Marino desperately wants a child. Though she and her older husband, Martin, have tried during the course of their marriage, their only hope now is adoption. Martin, who has seen his share of heartbreak, can't reconcile what Shelley wants with what he knows about the world, and as the father of two grown children from a previous marriage, he is not sur ...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published July 10th 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,041)
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Kim Fay
Whenever I think about this novel, I think about how after I read it, I gave it to my mom, thinking she would also enjoy it. I was right. Days later my mom called to say, "What a lovely book." While this may not be standard literary criticism vocabulary, it is the one word for me that defines Dana Sachs's writing: lovely. She writes with such quiet authority, in this case about a couple adopting a child from Vietnam. Sachs knows Vietnam well -- she has lived there more than once, written a book ...more
Mel
At first, I found this book difficult to get into. The writing style seemed wordy and it took awhile to get used to the plot being written in present tense. Three chapters in I found myself sucked into Shelley and Xuan Mai's stories.

Shelley is the wife of a mortician. They have been trying to adopt a child from another country.

Xuan Mai is a Vietnamese immigrant who left Vietnam at the end of the 1970s. She fled the country for personal reasons and lives an isolated life.

Though Shelley story is
...more
Shirley
Never read this author before, and probably won't seek out her other books, though I did generally enjoy this book. The best part of it was the description of life in Vietnam currently, the culture of Vietnam generally and the impact of the war, on both the Vietnamese and the Americans who fought in it. It's basically the story of a friendship between two women, one American and one Vietnamese. The American woman wants to adopt a Vietnamese child and the conflict that causes with her husband. Th ...more
Jeana
There were some things I really liked about this book and then every once in a while, something about the writing wouldn't ring true. It's hard to put my finger on exactly what bothered me. I really liked Mai's story and cared quite a bit more about her and the resolution of her story than Shelley's. Something about Shelley was just unlikeable to me, as a reader. Still, this book was fairly well-written and it was an interesting perspective on Vietnam and the aftermath of the war.
Kathleen
The begining of this book almost detured me from reading it. Something about the way they discribed the main charaters job set me on edge. The friend who lent me the book said she felt the same way and to keep reading. Once I got into the book it flowed nicely. I enjoyed the stories of Shelley and Xuan Mai. The things both women gave up showed you how strong they really were. Great book.
Jessica
This book was an interesting insight to an over seas adoption. I was frustrated by one of the main characters selfishness in the book and had a hard time finishing it. Knowing what I do about the heartbreak of not having children, I can't imagine choosing a child over a man who had stood by my side through it all. It was a book to read, just don't expect a lot.
Julia
I guess, the thing is, I didn't find the main story line believable, I thought the secondary story line was far more engaging, and I really couldn't determine if the book was about friendship, marriage, adoption, or forgiveness. I don't like having to decide which serious topic isn't being handled well enough to be convincing when I read a novel.
Lailani
Another quick read for summer. I enjoyed the two narrators, the differences in life bridged by a vietnemese adoption, the healing of wounds for two with a past in vietnam, etc. . .

I enjoyed being introduced more to the Vietnemese culture and another aspect of international adoption.

Great story!
Andi
Interesting intertwining of characters and their stories, but it didn't keep me riveted. I appreciated the foreign adoption storyline and the complications surrounding it.
Amanda
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and did not even mind the flip-flopping narrative viewpoints, which normally annoys me. I understood the narrator's desire for a child; however...it was entirely, entirely unbelievable that her husband, for so many years, experienced what hundreds of thousands experienced in Vietnam and did not discuss it. Further, he refused to help her in the process and then, all of a sudden, everything ties up nicely in the end. I felt as if the novel would have been stronger ...more
Robyn
My husband was born in Vietnam and was a young child during the war. He was fortunate enough to have been evacuated before the fall. I never understood some of his behaviors and his family doesn't talk about the war to the point that it was only by accident that I learned his eldest sister was killed when her school was bombed. After reading this book, I found that by understanding Mai, I better understood my husband and his family. So many things made sense and I've since passed the book onto m ...more
Cindy
Jan 31, 2011 Cindy marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
From B&N site: At forty-two, Shelley Marino desperately wants a child. Though she and her older husband, Martin, have tried during the course of their marriage, their only hope now is adoption. Martin, who has seen his share of heartbreak, can't reconcile what Shelley wants with what he knows about the world, and as the father of two grown children from a previous marriage, he is not sure he can bear the emotional challenge of fatherhood again. To love is to risk loss and Martin suddenly dec ...more
Tracy Darity
If You Lived Here by Dana Sachs starts out as a story about a woman whose desire to have a child ultimately leads her to Vietnam to adopt a baby boy. Her journey tests her marriage but in the process she gains a new friend. The story is two dimensional. The main plot is about Shelley, and what she endures to have a child of her own. The sub-plot deals with a Vietnamese woman named Xuan Mai, whom Shelley befriends when she learns of the little boy who is available for adoption in Hanoi, Vietnam, ...more
Linda
I've never run across this author before, so I don't have any of her other works to compare this to. However, having said that, I did very much enjoy this story about a later-middle-age couple trying to adopt a child. Shelley, the wife, is considerably younger than her husband, Martin, who has two sons from a previous marriage. By profession, the two are husband and wife morticians (a bit creepy!) and have been trying for years to have a child. After several miscarriages, failed in vitro attempt ...more
Dawn Michelle

3 1/2 Stars

This was an interesting book with an interesting storyline. One that has been explored before, but never quite like this. It was pretty personal to me and I do not think I would ever read this again (am giving the book away), but I DID enjoy it, even the parts that were tough for me to read and even the parts that made me so angry that I could have screamed!!

Shelley is a 42 year old married woman who cannot have a baby. Something she has always wanted and dreamed about. So, she deci
...more
Debbie
I’ve never read anything by this author but I did like this book. It did start out sort of slow. At times seemed to even ramble on off of the subject but when you finally understood where the author was going it became interesting to read. An almost predictable story at times. A woman named Shelly, an undertaker, could not get pregnant. She makes a connection with a most unlikely of friends, Mai who is a quiet Vietnamese woman owner of a neighborhood store near Shelly’s funeral home. They find t ...more
Lisa
A wonderful book about the struggles parents face when considering adoption - but the book is about so much more. It's about the struggles we all face in marriage, and about our ability to forgive ourselves for past mistakes.

I really enjoyed the author's skill at storytelling, making the characters come alive. I also enjoyed the descriptions of life in Vietnam during the Vietnam war and today. I love learning about other cultures, and that's one reason I really liked this book.

I also liked how t
...more
Linda
A member of my book club chose this book. I doubt if I would have read it on my own; however, I enjoyed the book once I got into it. It's about marriage, motherhood, friendship, and forgiveness. I realize I've read very few books in which a character was Vietnamese, so a lot of information was new and interesting to me.
Carol
Enjoyed this book.

It was a nice story. I liked that each chapter alternated between two main characters. I learned about Vietnam and foreign adoption. The writing was easy and flowed. The story kept my attention and I wanted to keep reading.
Ellyn
This novel alternates between two narrators. Shelley is a 42-year-old woman desperate to have a child who is seeking to adopt a little boy from Vietnam, placing great strain on her relationship with her husband, Martin, who is a Vietnam War veteran. Mai came to the United States from Vietnam as a young woman, fleeing tragedy, and she runs an Asian market in Shelley's hometown in North Carolina. The two women become friends and undertake a trip to Vietnam that ends up being life altering for both ...more
Karen
Sep 18, 2007 Karen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in adoption or vietnam or just a good story
Shelves: recentreads
What an unexpected gem this book was! An older couple is trying to adopt a baby in the US, but are disappointed time and again. A chance comes up to adopt a baby boy in Vietnam, but the husband does not want to--he is a Vietnam vet and has bad memories associated with that country. The adoption may be a deal breaker for the marriage. In the meantime, the wife befriends a local store owner, a Vietnamese woman, in order to learn more about the country and customs of her future son's country. Toget ...more
Lisa
Shelley and Martin have been trying to have kids for years and after a miscarriage decide to adopt. When they receive the green light to adopt a boy from Vietnam, Martin backs out sending their marriage in a downward spiral. If You Lived Here is a slow-moving, character-driven novel that centers around past tragedies and their impact in the present and the strife and process of foreign adoption. I would recommend this book to those who are drawn to character-driven books that feature characters ...more
Ryan Vollmer
I loved this book. A couple wants to adopt. A little boy in Viet nam becomes available. Husband served there and refuses. All attempts at previous adoptions have failed. Wife really wants this little boy. She befriends a local Vietnamese refugee and together they go to Hanoi. This is where the story really takes off. The two women encounter everything from bureaucratic nightmares and long lost relatives to romance, forgiveness, friendship and love. An artful blend of American and Vietnamese cult ...more
Ashley Bedford
Loved the plot line, I was really kept guessing the entire time what the outcome of both of the intertwined stories would be. I especially loved the bits of Vietnamese culture, food, tradition, and language that added a lot of richness to the setting. Can't pronounce any of the words, but I loved reading them in my Anglicized silent reading voice!
Jen
A woman struggling with infertility travels to Vietnam to adopt a baby. She brings her friend with her who had fled from Vietnam years before. Overall the book was a good read, but was bit slow at times. I enjoyed reading both characters point of view and finding more out about their lives.
Linda
This book tells the story of two women who become fast friends. One is red-haired mortician - Shelley - the other is a Vietnamese store owner - Mia. Each is dealing with difficult issues. Shelley wants to adopt but roadblocks keep appearing, including from her husband. Mia, who left Vietnam as a teenager, is filled with guilt and loss from her last day in Vietnam. They become fast friends and travel together to Vietnam to pick up the boy Shelley's is to adopt. As expected, thing do not go as hop ...more
Jessica Pollner
I really enjoyed this book and was sorry to see it end. The book follows the stories of two women, Shelly and Mai, and the different circumstances that eventually bring them to Vietnam together. While I initially felt more connected to Shelly, it was Mai's journey that kept me captivated. It may not end up in the list of my favorites, but I found I wanted to keep reading and see where their journeys took them. Enjoyed the imagery and a glimpse into the culture of Vietnam, both during the war and ...more
Roxanne
Good story, engaging characters, engaging relationships. Written in alternating voices between Shelly and her new friend, Mai. Shelly and her husband, Martin, are business partners in the funeral business. He has 2 grown sons from a prior marriage. She wants a child and decides to adopt a Vietnamese orphan. He wants no part of it due to post-traumatic stress syndrome from the war in Vietnam. Mai has come to live in the U.S. after the war to escape guilt from a tragic accident that killed her nie ...more
Ellen
May 29, 2008 Ellen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody
I learned a lot about North Vietnam and what it was like for people who lived there during the war. An American citizen/immigrant revisits her life there as she is befriended by an American woman adopting a baby from Viet Nam. There are themes of family love, forgiveness and healing from the past. I picked this up as an "airplane" book, but ended up not just engaged in the story, but also impressed by the author's sympathy for the characters and ability to express feelings that rang true. I migh ...more
Kelly
This was a really wonderful book and one that I didn't want to end. Told from two different narrators, Shelley and Xuan Mai, it tells the story of two women whose lives intersect as one, desperate to become a mother, prepares to meet her adoptive son in Vietnam, and the other painfully begins the process of seeking forgivness from the family and homeland she fled after the War. The obstacles, pain and ultimate triumphs these women endure carry the reader along on a wonderful journey across time ...more
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