Author: Bich Minh Nguyen
Publisher: Viking Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-670-02081-2

Click Here To Purchase Short Girls: A Novel

‘You pick your friends and you pick your enemies, but your family you’re stuck with.’ I don’t remember who said that bit of wisdom, or if he was famous, but it is a saying I’ve heard all my life. By the time most of us become adults we find that it is true. No matter where we wonder, it’s very hard to dismiss those first eighteen years. That is the topic of this book, Short Girls.

Van and Linny Long are a set of sisters who find themselves estranged from both each other and their Vietnamese heritage. Their parents emigrated from Vietnam, but they were born and grew up in America, finding it difficult to relate to their parents from such a different culture.

They also find it difficult to relate to each other. As small children they were close, but as they grew up conflicting identities emerged. Van was the studious one and the perfect daughter, always eager to please. She went to college, married well, and appeared to have a perfect life. Linny was the more social and most American, losing the ability to speak or understand Vietnamese and dropping out of college.

The sisters come back together to celebrate their father finally becoming an American citizen, both interrupted from crises in their own life. Van’s husband has left her and Linny’s affair with a married man is ending badly. Both are shaky and fragile and in need of each other now that they are so alone. Though the hardships they begin to realize how valuable their sister is.

This story is a wonderful tale of immigrants’ children and the struggle to be both of the Old World and America. Both Van and Linny walk a sort of tight rope, trying to balance between honoring their ancestral culture and being modern as well. Neither is very successful at first. Van tries to remember her roots by using her law degree to help other immigrants. She tries to play the perfect Asian daughter and breaks when the façade crumbs.

Linny tries to be totally a hip American, but she cannot forget the past and finds solace in cooking. She is the daughter who can cook the Vietnamese recipes taught by her mother.

Very like The Joy Luck Club, it is a tale of two women who are trying to be American while struggling against their mother’s memory and the expectations of their Vietnamese heritage.

Click Here To Purchase Short Girls: A Novel