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Dragon House

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  938 ratings  ·  194 reviews
From the critically acclaimed author of Beneath a Marble Sky and Beside a Burning Sea--the new novel from "a master storyteller,"* set in contemporary Asia.

From John Shors comes an unforgettable story of redemption set in modern-day Vietnam.

Dragon House tells the tale of Iris and Noah--two Americans who, as a way of healing their own painful pasts, open a center to house
Paperback, 354 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Berkley Books (first published August 28th 2009)
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Average rating 3.90  · 
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 ·  938 ratings  ·  194 reviews

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Aug 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Another John Shors Triumph!

John Shors continues to establish his reputation as one of this decade's more important writers, an author who understands the art of blending artistic prose with an always surprising depth of knowledge of the cultures he chooses to explore in his fascinating novels - from India in his debut BENEATH A MARBLE SKY, to war time South Pacific in BESIDE A BURNING SEA, and now to Vietnam in this absorbing novel DRAGON HOUSE. There are passages in his works that suggest the
Jaime H
Aug 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
How do I write a review about a book that tugged, actually, YANKED at my heart strings as much as this book did and give it the credit that is due? I am not sure but I will do my best.

The children of the streets of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon, Vietnam) are the heart and soul of "Dragon House". Tam, a child who is dying from Leukiemia, and her grandmother Qui beg on the streets just so Tam can have medicine to ease her pain. Mai and Minh held under the "protection" of Loc, an Opium
Aug 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Weavre by: Amazon Vine
Iris, a successful Chicago writer, feels abandoned by the father who was absent for much of her childhood. When he dies, her decision to go find out what he found so compelling about a project in Vietnam changes not only her life, but the lives of many others. She's accompanied by Noah, a veteran whose body and soul were terribly injured in Iraq and who sees no way out of his pain. In Vietnam, we discover street children Mai and Minh, abused by their opium-addicted "protector"; gentle Qui and ...more
Sep 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
When I first got this book I have to be honest I did not think it was going to be my kind of read. It is something I don't usually read. Wow was I wrong! I loved this book!

It has a slow buildup at the beginning but once it gets going it sucks you right in. I read it in 3 sittings with the majority of it in one sitting. I finished up the last 40 pages this morning and would've finished last night but I couldn't hold my eyes open any longer. In fact I think a nap is calling my name today. It was
Jul 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Iris Rhodes has a neat and ordered life in Chicago, but her father's death changes all of that. Her Dad was a Vietnam veteran who was so tormented by the atrocities he had seen and participated in during the war that he was often absent from Iris' life when she was growing up. His demons caused a rift in their relationship that they tried hard to mend. And he was healing himself, in a way, by working on his project. He wanted to open a center for street children in Vietnam, to help in whatever ...more
Jul 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Iris' father, a troubled Vietnam veteran, never lives to see his dream of opening a center for Vietnamese street children fufilled. As a man haunted by the atrocities of the war, Iris' father was not able to give her much emotional and physical support throught her life. Nevertheless, after his death, Iris picks up where her father left off and travels to Vietnam. Noah, a childhood friend and Iraqi war veteran, also decides to accompany her. After losing one of his legs overseas and witnessing ...more
Oct 06, 2009 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: people who are into sappy tales
Sorry to say that this was the sappiest, preachiest book I've ever read. We go through various POVs as two americans (Iris & Noah) attempt to help open Iris' father's home for wayward (see: street) children in Vietnam. We follow Iris, Noah, a female helper Thien, two street children Mai & Minh, a grandmother (Qui) and her sickly granddaughter (Tam) as they all cross paths and attempt to help each other.

Between Noah spouting off (what could be the author's feelings about the U.S.
Darcy Odden
Jan 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Author John Shors brings to life the street children of Vietnam in his poignant novel, "Dragon House." He introduces readers to Iris Rhodes, a young professional from Chicago and daughter of a Vietnam veteran. When Iris' father is dying from cancer, she tells him she will finish his dream of building a center for the street children in Saigon where the children will be safe and go to school. Iris is joined in her mission by Noah, an old schoolmate wounded in the Iraq War.

Shors beautifully
Jun 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I hope this message finds everyone well. As many of you know, I’m trying to raise money for homeless children in Vietnam through my new novel, Dragon House ( In eight weeks, we’ve raised enough money to buy sets of school books for 350 street children in Vietnam. And this is just the beginning.... As the holidays approach, if you’d like to help someone in desperate need, please visit Anyone who makes a $100 donation to Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation will ...more
Sep 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Iris Rhodes is a young woman, a book reviewer, trying to fulfill her departed father's wish, to open a center for Vietnamese street children. A place for them to stay and to be educated. Her father came back from the Vietnam was a shell of the man he was before, suffering from PTSD, and unable to ease his suffering once he came home to his wife and daughter. He travelled to Vietnam after the war with a dream of doing some good, and by doing so, little by little he began to heal.

As Iris makes
Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Wendy by: Library
"Dragon House" by John Shors is a captivating story that is poignant and heartbreaking. It takes place in Ho Chi Minh City years after the Vietnam war and follows two Americans, Iris Rhodes and Noah Woods who struggle not only to open a Centre for Children but to heal their painful pasts. It's a story that weaves together violence , corruption and depravity with elements of hope, forgiveness, sacrifice, friendship and love.

This well-written, captivating plot is filled with contrasts. The
Oct 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I first encountered John Shors when I read his novel Beneath a Marble Sky. This new novel, Dragon House, has stepped up John’s impressive writing skills another notch. Dragon House is a love story; the love of a daughter for her father, a sister for her brother, a grandmother for her granddaughter and soldiers for their country. And it is a story of the courage it takes to follow your heart and protect the ones you love.

The Story: After Iris’ father dies, she decides to go to Vietnam and
This book, by one of my favorite authors, was not as highly rated by the 'critics' as his last two. I never let that keep me away from anything, as I rarely agree with the 'critics'...about anything. I've loved John Shors' other books and am nothing if not loyal!

I read it...and I loved it. The authors descriptions of Vietnam have completely changed my view of that country so far away. My husband was one of the Americans who fought in that wasteful, useless, destructive war, and I wanted nothing
Aug 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
My sister is a part of the Amazon "Vine" program, so I got to read this novel before it's publication date. I'm so glad that I did! What a wonderful novel. Dragon House is the story of a group of Vietnamese street children who are helped by two Americans and a Vietnamese police officer. The Americans have come to today's Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to open a center for the street children. This center will educate, protect, and house the street children. And they need protection, because many are ...more
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In John Shors' novels, the reader is always shown the innate beauty and goodness of people. Just the same, the ugly and the bad are not disguised. They are equally presented as part of the harsh reality of our world. The good will not always triumph, the bad will always be there; but the sun will always rise, there's always a new day, there will always be a reason to hope.

Mai is my favorite character of all. She has seen so much suffering and yet she remains a child at heart. She has so much
Jun 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
Iris Rhodes is a successful writer in Chicago. She has been trying to heal old wounds between her father and herself, as he lies dying in a hospital. Her father is a Vietnam vet and has been trying to fight his demons by working on a very important project. He is opening up a center for street children in Vietnam. It is one way he feels he can contribute to Vietnam's healing. Right before her father dies, Iris has made the decision to go to Vietnam to see her dad's project through to completion. ...more
Jill Gilbert
Nov 15, 2009 rated it it was ok
This is the story of two Americans who travel to Vietnam to establish a center for street children in Ho Chi Minh City.

I found this book slow going. The characterizations are very thin - it's all angels or devils, honestly. Much of it reads like a travelogue of Vietnam, and the descriptions detracted from the story at times. The protagonist, Iris, remains an enigma. We know she's one of the good guys, but other than that, what motivates her? Does she really have no friends or lovers back home in
Jan 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The children of Vietnam have a place to turn to instead of living on the streets. Two Americans, Iris and Noah, have created a home for these children and have taken it upon themselves to teach this group of under privileged youth. Iris is taken with these children who have also taught her a thing or two.

This is an uplifting novel that captivated me. I couldn't help but be drawn in by these characters. John is an amazing writer with endless talent.
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, eugbooks
Loved, loved, loved it! Iris has had only a couple of years to begin a new relationship with her father, who was severely scarred by Vietnam PTSD. His recovery began when he returned to Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, to begin a shelter for abandoned and abused street kids there. When he dies of cancer, she vows to go to Vietnam and finish the job for him. Old friend Noah, himself physically and mentally wounded by service in Iraq, tags along in an effort to recover who he once was.
A powerful
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It’s not often that, the minute I finish a book, I immediately check what else this author wrote so I can return to a world he created. How can you not fall in love with Mai and Minh, parentless children surviving, just barely, the streets of Ho Chi Minh City in current-day Vietnam. Noah, the American so damaged by fighting in “the American War”, returns to Vietnam in overwhelming pain where he rekindles his desire to live and love. Iris, whose father’s dying wish is that she finish his work of ...more
"Dragon House," is a novel of exceptional beauty, a love story of multi-dimension, and a healing experience for all who know the Viet Nam War.

John Shors has become one of my favorite authors of the 21st century. I believe he is the voice of our recent past, and a voice of the humanity in all of us as we struggle to keep what is good and moral against a tide of selfishness and instability in our world.

Mr. Shors is an author of exceptional capabilities with characterization conveying feelings and
Apr 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
John Shors is one of my most favorite authors and 'Dragon House' is a wonder. This book shines with love,forgiveness,hope,sorrow and beauty. The author was able to travel to Vietnam several times as in his other travels in Asia was impressed with large numbers of street children. He is donating a portion of the proceeds of Dragon House to this organization.

Some of his own experiences like playing Connect Four with a street chid are reflected in this book about
Maybe it is because I am going to Vietnam in a month; maybe this was just the right book at the right time, but whatever the reason, I really enjoyed this book.

Enjoyed might be the wrong term because there is some real pain in Shors' story. However, I fell into this novel and didn't want to leave. I found engaging characters, a world that I know nothing about and a good story line. Everything I want from a book.

Shors wants his reader to learn about orphans of the world. He is concerned about the
Bert Edens
Apr 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really liked the way this book unfolded, telling the story in a lot of detail showing the author had actually spent some time in Vietnam. It has plenty of love and laughter and action and it genuinely warms the heart at points.

My only beef is that it seems to have a bit of a deus ex machina ending with one of the characters, where in successive chapters / sections you go from No Hope At All to Everything Is All Right. It just had a feel of the author trying to fit within a particular page
Aug 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Another amazingly beautiful book about the power of a person's ability to love, to hope, and to rebuild. Similar to another book I have read by this author, this book was filled with memorable characters that are realistically flawed. As they learn from each other, they able to rise above their own hurts and nightmares and emerge into something amazing.
The story follows two very different people who together find the better part of themselves trying to build and open a center for street kids in
Feb 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book was a great read. It brings about a lot of current issues that we usually don't think about in America. Issues that people in other parts of the world must face each day such as finding food, avoiding being beaten, making as little as a dollar extra to stay safe for a night...these issues made me angry at the extreme differences in wealth distribution. I also like that Mr. Shors is donating a portion of the proceeds from this book to a charity (his own...?) that is helping "street ...more
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It's sad how little I knew (and still know) about Vietnam, but Shors does all of the little street children justice. They are really captivating characters with sad stories, and I became so invested in them from the start. Everyone in this story needs rescuing, and Shors goes about that in sort of surprising ways.
Jan 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
In “Dragon House”, the “street children” are the heart and soul of the novel. A heart and soul that beats and is alive with consciousness, thought, feeling, will and moral nature!

Iris lives on the twentieth floor of a high-rise apartment in Chicago, Illinois. Her father has passed away five weeks previously from cancer. As a young child Iris was hurt and confused about her father’s frequent absences and couldn’t understand how he could love her so much but still leave her. As the years
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Centering around the street children in present-day (or rather, circa 2009) Vietnam, John Shors’ novel weaves together stories of three generations, multiple wars, Americans, and Vietnamese people.

There is a great deal of raw human suffering, especially in the first half of the novel. It can be hard to stomach. However, it is an integral part of the story. In the author’s note, Shors reveals that his novel was inspired by his travels in Asia and his experience with homeless children; a charity
Lady of the Lake
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Jun 09, 2009
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Jun 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a Bookbrowse "First Impressions" Advance Reader's Copy (ARC)
I enjoyed reading this story very much. The author painted a grim picture of the lives of children living on the streets of Viet Nam, specifically Ho Chi Mihn City (Saigon), and how two Americans open a center to save those children.
The book is a page turner and I recommend it to those who want to read a tale that is fast paced, heart-wrenching, and heart-warming.
marked it as to-read
Jun 29, 2009
Jun 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: asia, fiction, travel
Shors has written about India (Beneath a Marble Sky), World War II and the Japanese (Beneath a Burning Sea), and now about street children in Vietnam. I very much enjoyed this book, although I think I enjoyed the first two books of his I read better. They were both more ambitious and sweeping.

Shors brought Vietnam, one of the few Asian countries I haven't visited, to life for me. He paints a compassionate picture of the neglected children on the street and two broken Americans who arrive in
marked it as to-read
Jun 30, 2009
Jennifer Defoy
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Jul 01, 2009
Lisa Topp
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Jul 08, 2009
Jul 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
Review will be posted after our book club discussion.
Laura Ellis
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Jul 14, 2009
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Jul 17, 2009
Kari Gritzan
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Jul 20, 2009
Jul 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Interview with author John Shors:

Dragon House has been described as a "moving, deeply descriptive novel that brings all those frequently hidden qualities of compassion, purity of mind, and, yes, love—the things we used to call the human spirit—into the foreground of our feeling as readers." (author Gregory David Roberts)

Here's what John Shors, author of Dragon House, has to say about the plight of street children in contemporary Vietnam.

Interview with John Shors

1. What first drew you to the
Jul 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Love it, love it, love it. A wonderful novel of redemption, set in modern-day Saigon.
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Jul 26, 2009
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Jul 26, 2009
Jul 27, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Since my spouse is on Amazon Vine, I was able to read a pre release of "The Dragon House". This also happened to be my first exposure to John Shors.

I have to commend Mr Shors for writing a book that not only raises the awareness of childhood poverty in Vietnam, and by extension across the globe. Additionally a portion of the proceeds will go to the Blue Dragon Children's Foundation. This is all great stuff.

The book itself though isn't as good as his intentions. The story, loosely, is about
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Jul 29, 2009
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Jul 31, 2009
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Hi, everyone. I hope this message finds people well.

I'm the bestselling author of The Demon Seekers trilogy, Unbound, Beneath a Marble Sky, Temple of a Thousand Faces, Cross Currents, Beside a Burning Sea, Dragon House, and The Wishing Trees. My novels have won multiple awards and have been translated into twenty six languages. I have also spoken (via speakerphone) with more than 3,000 book clubs
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“You shine...such a light on me.” 6 likes
“Mai looked around, marveling at the nearly finished paintings on the stairwell's walls.....Mai wished that she could create something as beautiful. She was certain that to create such beauty, the painter must have laughed many times.” 0 likes
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