Victoria's Reviews > The Reeducation of Cherry Truong: A Novel

The Reeducation of Cherry Truong by Aimee Phan
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Feb 17, 12

really liked it
bookshelves: contemporary, historical, trip-lit, first-reads
Read from January 28 to February 01, 2012

March is just around the corner and with it comes some exciting things like warmer weather (even though it’s been pretty warm here in the south all winter this year), longer days and less Seasonal Affective Disorder from never seeing the sunshine, my birthday and the Ides of March (same day), the local Battle of the Books competition, and perhaps best of all, the release of Aimee Phan’s debut novel The Reeducation of Cherry Truong (Phan previously released a book of short stories, We Should Never Meet). St. Martin’s Press sent me an Advanced Reader Copy of this book last month and I devoured it. This is a beautiful story of family, tragedy, culture and Vietnamese history that sweeps four countries, two continents and three generations. Prior to reading this book, I have to admit that I had never heard of the reeducation camps that occurred in Vietnam after the war and a Google search revealed some pretty awful truths about North Vietnam’s history.
The story is told in flashbacks from the perspectives of members from two Vietnamese families, the Vos and the Truongs. After the Fall of Saigon in 1975 the two families split apart; the Vos head to American and the Truongs leave for France both via a refuge camp in Malaysia. Sahn Truong leaves behind a disappointed family to take his wife, Tuyet Vo, and her family to America while the rest of the Truongs make their way to France. Both family units struggle to maintain their culture and identity while integrating into their new societies and cultures. Heartbreak and corruption is experienced by all characters in the new worlds. Cherry, the only member of the families who was actually born in the United States, is desperate to reconnect to her roots and with her brother who has moved back to Vietnam following a tragedy.
Taking place from 1979 to 2002, with a dozen characters and three generations who all experience their own form of reeducation the book is a commentary on both the history of a country as well as what it means to be a family. The characters are all well developed and each has qualities that make them simultaneously loveable and loathed, in other words, human.
The book reads like a series of short stories that come together to paint a wonderful portrait of the immigrant experience.
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Reading Progress

01/29/2012 page 100
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