In present day New Orleans, three sisters begin to encounter glimpses of long-buried secrets from their ancestors. Moving backward in time, the story of the Trung women reveals the events that brought them to America.
... daring ... The novel’s magical realism contrasts poignantly with its depiction of the too-real pressures of assimilation, which the modern Trung sisters face. In spare prose, Tran paints the sacrifice, guilt and culture clash of immigrant families. Precise details point to these larger dynamics ... By connecting these contemporary challenges with the Trungs’ warrior lineage, Tran shows us that modern resistance to assimilation is a continuation of a historical fight against imperialism ... And while I wished to follow each act of defiance longer, wished there were clearer resolutions for the modern Trungs and more details given about each of their ancestors, I also wondered whether this was exactly Tran’s point: that acts of resistance cannot stand alone. They form a continuous fabric through time, weaving a tapestry through the ages.
... absorbing ... Despite a growing distance--of geography, time, generations--Tran's matriarchal epic gives voice to the 'many silences in [her] family' by insisting 'the Trung women had a record of their existence.... Whatever else they maybe have sacrificed in marriage--dignity, autonomy, freedom--they insisted upon preserving their name.' Tran adroitly claims their enduring stories.
Tiên’s mother’s and grandmother’s chapters give additional depth to the Trungs’ lost family history. Layered with magical realism, Tran’s novel is a complex meditation on history, memory, and what each generation carries.