sjams's Reviews > Monkey Bridge

Monkey Bridge by Lan Cao
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Jul 10, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011, fiction, historical, look-at-life, memoir, thought-provoking
Read 2 times. Last read June 22, 2011 to July 13, 2011.

When I read this in high school, one of my group mates threw the book on the table and disgustedly said, "This book should have only been the last third. The rest doesn't do anything!" Ever since I've wanted to re-read it and figure out what went wrong. Now I realize that she probably just prefers plot fiction. ;) As an avid fan of so-called 'literature', the fact that I liked this book in the face of her disgust frustrated me. Was there something wrong with me?

No, nothing wrong with me. I just like to read about people and lives, and this is the story of the lives of two women escaped from Vietnam in 1979. When Mai is asked about growing up in Vietnam, all she can say is, "It was different." Not only was it different, but she can't decide if the questioner will even be able to comprehend the differences. Lan Cao poignantly portrays the clash of culture in scenes like this throughout this book. Do Americans really want to know what happened in Vietnam, or do they want the sanitized version? Can the Vietnamese explain to the Americans the philosophy of their lives? Is it even possible to blend Vietnamese with American? The older generation doesn't even try; they are counting down the days until they can return to Vietnam. Mai is trying to settle into the American dream and be free from her past. But her past haunts her.

There is no clear resolution in this book, just a good book that studies culture clash and how the Vietnamese in the late 1970s dealt or didn't deal with their problems. It's haunting and sad, but so is life.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Monkey Bridge.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

Finished Reading
July 10, 2009 – Shelved
June 22, 2011 – Started Reading
July 11, 2011 –
page 94
July 13, 2011 – Finished Reading
July 14, 2011 – Shelved as: 2011
July 14, 2011 – Shelved as: fiction
July 14, 2011 – Shelved as: historical
July 14, 2011 – Shelved as: look-at-life
July 14, 2011 – Shelved as: memoir
July 14, 2011 – Shelved as: thought-provoking

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Alison (new) - added it

Alison It sounds intriguing; I'd like to read it.

sjams Alison wrote: "It sounds intriguing; I'd like to read it."

It is pretty intriguing, even though the ending is a bit unsatisfying. I wish I had a sequel or something to learn more about these people's lives.

back to top