House of Sticks

Scribner. Jun. 2021. 384p. 9781501118814. $27. MEMOIR
Tran’s debut offers an intimate look at her upbringing and family life, from immigrating to New York City from rural Vietnam as a young child, through her adolescence and early adulthood. Her memoir reads as a therapeutic catharsis, processing the traumas of poverty, a sense of not quite fitting in, the limitations of growing up as a girl, and the unpredictably volatile outbursts of a father dealing with his own trauma as a prisoner of war. The author invites readers to revisit memories of her childhood and reflects on growing up as her family’s only daughter and her sometimes-fractured relationships with her three brothers. Tran, a naturally optimistic child, began to experience a low level of depression which cast a shadow over her many accomplishments. This book’s engaging prose and tender vulnerability will have readers rooting for Tran and hoping that she’ll recognize her worth and potential. New Yorkers will especially enjoy the many references to their city.
VERDICT Readers will fall into this memoir by a talented new author. It will appeal to many, as a coming-of-age story and a firsthand look into the psyche of a young immigrant.
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