Book Review: A Mother’s Tale & Other Stories by Khanh Ha


A Mother’s Tale is a tale of salvaging one’s soul from received and inherited war-related trauma. Within the titular beautiful story of a mother’s love for her son is the cruelty and senselessness of the Vietnam War, the poignant human connection, and a haunting narrative  whose setting and atmosphere appear at times otherworldly through their landscape and inhabitants. Captured in the vivid descriptions of Vietnam’s country and culture are a host of characters, tortured and maimed and generous and still empathetic despite many obstacles, including a culture wrecked by losses. Somewhere in this chaos readers will find a tender link between the present-day survivors and those already gone. Rich and yet buoyant with a vision-like quality, this collection shares a common theme of love and loneliness, longing and compassion, where beauty is discovered in the moments of brutality, and agony is felt in ecstasy.


A great book consisting of 11 short stories based on the Vietnam war and how the war has impacted people from all walks of life. One of my favourite stories is “The Bridge Behind”, where we are introduced to an old man who suffered the loss of his wife and now struggles to keep up with the everyday life amidst the cruelty of the soldiers who have invaded their place. We see how rude the soldiers were towards the people of Vietnam, including the old man, who literally lives life at the mercy of the soldiers. Finally, we see how an explosion that took place shattered the old man’s life as he watches the explosion with tears.

I feel like the stories are written so authentically that anyone reading them could feel the emotions of the characters and what the stings of war could do to people. At times, I also feel that we are fortunate to have not gone through them in life.

A five star for this book! Wonderfully written. Very poignant stories.


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