AUDIO BOOK REVIEW: The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

Publication Date: March 17, 2020
Format: Audio
Genre:  Coming of Age/War
Narrator: Quyen Ngo

Publisher: Dreamscape Media
10 hours 44 min
Buy: Kindle | Audio


The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War.

Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart.

Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope. The Mountains Sing is celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai's first novel in English.


This book is beautiful and heart wrenching. I have traveled throughout Vietnam, boated down the Mekong, spent time in Hanoi, traveled through the Cu Chi Tunnels, and wandered around Saignon (Ho Chi Minh City) and its breathtaking.  Listening to this book brought Vietnam to life, but not just the beauty that I saw but the ravages of war and how it destroys families.  This story is told in the point of view of a grandmother and her granddaughter as they recount their time and what they had to do to survive and help their family.  

The book takes place between the 1930's and more present day.  You could feel the struggle and love pouring through this book as it described the hardships, trials, heartbreak and the unknown of a family trying to survive as their country is torn apart from outside and within. You learn the devastating effects of the war on not only the men but generations afterward. This book is poetry disguised as a novel.  With many Vietnamese proverbs sprinkled throughout Quyen Ngo's reading of this story brought to life the rich culture of this country.  

After I finished I paused not sure whether I was sad or happy. This book brings you through so many emotions that it is hard to put your finger on just one.  I think in the end I will settle on gratitude.  Gratitude for this book being written and translated into English, and gratitude for netgalley and the publisher for gifting me this book in exchange for an honest review.