Monday, August 30, 2010

Bitter in the Mouth by Monique Truong

My picks for books a week ago for the Amazon Vine program where less than stellar. One book I will not even inflict the review on you folks who read my blog. Needless to say I couldn't read past 80 pages it was so boring to me. When I published my review of that bit of drivel on Amazon, I was happy to see that Publisher's Weekly agreed with me. When doing a review for the Vine program, to keep me as honest and fair as possible, I read the book, write and publish my review before seeing what anyone else has to say about it. Sometimes I seem to be the lone voice of dissent or praise, but since this is supposed to be my feelings and I've never been known for being a "yes" person I don't particularly care. When possible, I try to let the authors know of my reviews of their books and when they write back and tell me that I 'got' the book I feel happy. The titles of all my reviews here, when possible, always link back to the author's blog or website so that if you like you can find out more about them. That all being said, on to today's Vine review.

I was prepared to not like Bitter in the Mouth as the blurb about it seemed a bit implausible, but the selections for my Vine review picks that week were sketchy and this book looked to be the best of the lot. I am so glad I did choose it, because it turned out to be a very interesting book that showed friendships and families in the light of how they really are warts and all. Linda loves her father and is close to him, she is distant from her mother, extremely close to her great-uncle and has a best friend, Kelly, which she communicates by letters from their first little girl notes until the end of the book when they are in their early 30’s I believe. Not only does this book show the problems within the family, it also shows what Linda and her mother go through to heal their relationship.

Linda ‘suffers’ from synesthesia, although she would not call it suffering. Her form consists of every spoken word leaves a taste in her mouth which means that every word has certain connotations to her. For example, Mom equals chocolate milk, the name Leo equals parsnips. The only one that she has been able to discuss this with is her best friend Kelly, which is one of the reasons for the written letters between them over the years. Verbal language made it incredibly hard for her to handle the ‘incomings’ as she called them. It isn’t until she sees a TV program about people with other forms of synesthesia that Linda learns she is not alone.

What is found most appealing in reading this book, is that within minutes I felt like I was reading a girl’s true diary if girls had the writing ability of an adult to write out their feelings. I had to remind myself many times throughout reading this book that it was fiction. The entire book is narrated by Linda and as she learns things or understand past moments in time, only then do we learn and understand them too. This is a different and lovely novel and by the end of the book, you are really hoping for a happy ending for Linda even past the actual end of the book. You feel like you know her and want the best for her after all she has gone through. I will certainly be looking for more books by this author.


One of the very interesting things that I found in this book was knowing it was written by a Vietnamese immigrant and I kept waiting for somebody in the book to be Vietnamese. Well at the half-way point we are introduced to that person and I had been suspecting who it would be for a while, but the writing was skilfully done so that it wasn't really the focus of the book but an added element. I see great things ahead for this excellent writer, Monique Truong.

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