Book Review: All The Rivers Flow Into The Sea by Khanh Ha

Author of Mrs. Rossi’s Dream, a 2019 Foreword Reviews INDIES Silver and Bronze Winner (War & Military Adult Fiction); and A Mother’s Tale & Other Stories, a Foreword Reviews INDIES Bronze Winner 

From Vietnam to America, this story collection, jewel-like, evocative and layered, brings to the readers a unique sense of love, passions and the tragedy of rape, all together contrasting a darker theme of perils. The titular story captures a simple love story that transcends cultural barriers. The opening story “A Woman-Child” brings the shy eroticism of adolescence set against a backdrop of the seaside with its ever present ecological beauty. A youthful love affair between an older American man and a much younger Vietnamese girl has its poignant brevity in “All the Pretty Little Horses.” In “The Yin-Yang Market” magical realism and the beauty of innocence abounds in deep dark places, teeming with life and danger. “A Mute Girl’s Yarn” tells a magical coming-of-age story like sketches in a child’s fairy book.

Bringing together the damned, the unfit, the brave who succumb by their own doing to the call of fate, their desire to survive never dying, it is a great journey to inhabit this world where redemption of human goodness arises out of violence and beauty to become part of its essential mercy.

Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Having read one of Khanh Ha’s books before, I knew his writing style is going to leave an impact on me, at least for a few days, with the melancholic plots and stories with very real and relatable characters. This book and its short stories are no different too. I particularly enjoy Khanh’s stories, as they depict struggles the Vietnamese face, from the time of war and its impact post-war. The everyday lives of people are filled with sadness, contentment, and a mixture of feelings that leave you feeling sad.

I like how each story, like the one in The Woman-Child, reflects the life of a young girl, and how being born into a poor family, she yearns to go to school, and also perceives Americans to be rich in general. Overall, I loved reading these stories and I would highly recommend it if you would love to explore different cultures and the impact wars have on people.

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