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Grass Roof, Tin Roof by Dao Strom

Grass Roof, Tin Roof (2003)

by Dao Strom

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0618145591, Paperback)

One difficulty of novels with multiple stories and points of view is that readers can become attached to an especially charismatic character and not want to relinquish him or her. So it is with Grass Roof, Tin Roof, Dao Strom's thoughtful and adept debut. The book begins in Vietnam on the verge of the Communist takeover and describes the dangerous career in political journalism of Than, a young woman whose real aim had been to write a romantic serial inspired by Gone with the Wind. Than's lover and mentor, a mysterious figure named Giang, has been signing his own articles with her name, and eventually, although the words are rarely hers, Than acquires the manner and confidence of an investigative reporter. When the newspapers are shut down, and Than gives birth to Giang's illegitimate daughter, she has little choice but to leave for America. Another writer would stop the tale at this crucial transition, but Strom's novel is not a simple love story set against brutality and oppression. Like a vine, her narrative twists and pushes forward, flowering at unexpected points. The American portions of Grass Roof, Tin Roof are as well sustained, if not as vividly hued, as the opening. If we regret the shift in focus away from the engaging Than, we are soon enough drawn into the lives of Than's children and their Danish-born stepfather.

Dao Strom, like the child of Than and Giang, was born in Saigon to a literary mother and brought to America as an infant during the 1975 exodus. With a sagacity that belies her youth, she evokes the divided mind of the refugee and the child of two cultures. --Regina Marler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:50 -0400)

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