Monday, June 1, 2015

She Weeps Each Time You're Born

She Weeps Each Time You're Born
Quan Barry
Pantheon Book
Random House LLC
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-307-91177-3
$ 24.95
270 pages

"Three things cannot be hidden long: the sun, the moon, and the truth. Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened."

While the fighting is at its most intense during the Vietnam War, Rabbit is born in a grave during a night with a beautiful full moon. This is her destiny. The story is her life and those who have called this country “home” for generations. As with numerous wars, her family consists of people from her village and travels, all thrown together into a unit that depends and protects each other.

Rabbit has a rare gift. She is able to "hear" the dead reflecting on the past in this war torn country from the French Indochina to the World War II rubber plantations to the American occupation to the reunification. The sights and sounds are her voices from the past beautifully woven into a tale of those Vietnamese people who miraculously survived and even those who died retelling from their perspective all the violence of the twentieth century in their homeland.

The personal voice of Rabbit throughout She Weeps Each Time You're Born is astounding making the reader hear, touch, see and even smell as she journeys her country through the extended time had been at war.

What is unusual about this novel is the poetic word choices creating an aviance surrounding each paragraph. There is beauty in the writing of this novel that creates a deepness often reflected in poetry. Each carefully crafted sentence appears to have a more intensive meaning that frequently has the reader stopping and reflecting upon the inner truths of the words chosen. With words of wisdom and real life experiences in every character's life, Barry concisely and perfectly writes what others feel but cannot express as eloquently in carefully sculptured sentences such as "He of all people should know that when the heart breaks, there is no salve," or "Overnight a thousand-year culture of hospitality had been reduced to everyman for himself."

She Weeps Each Time You're Born tells of those who were not fighting, but just trying to survive as their country is torn-apart around them. The writing allows the reader to visually view life throughout the twentieth century in Vietnam while working on a rubber plantation, being re-educated at a camp, experiencing not being on the winning side of a war, magical gifts, atrocities, tragedies, and the love and loyalty between people.

She Weeps Each Time You're Born is Quan Barry's debut novel. She has previously published poetry books that have won awards while working as a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

This is a novel that luxiates in the language while allowing the words to surround the reader engulfing each person into She Weeps Each Time You're Born.

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