Review: Monkey Bridge by Lan Cao


Rating: ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆
Date read: May, 2009
Read count: 1

Should be a 4-star rating, but 3 stars overall.

I went into this book with expectations; I expected to be able to relate to the characters’ struggles and diaspora. However, that didn’t really happen.

While Cao’s writing is great and full of subtle emotional intensity–the writing is especially powerful during the quiet moments of the story–the ending left me hanging. It felt unsatisfying the way nonfictional accounts of tragedies leave you hanging in the balance. There’s an uneasiness, a quiet disturbing sense of uneasiness that I felt after reading. The feeling didn’t go away for some time. If that was the intended effect, then the text is successful in that sense. But if it wasn’t, then that’s quite a peculiar side-effect.

Let’s talk about the prose. It’s familiar to me because I’ve read many books that follow this kind of narrative. What makes Cao’s story stand out among the various diaspora stories is the depictions of subtle quiet silences that grows between mother and daughter as each gradually become a stranger to each other and herself, in this new world, in her adopted home.

Original review can be found here.


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