This novel is presented as a letter from a 29-year-old author, Little Dog, to his illiterate mother. His writings flow from his youth in an abusive home, his relationship with his Vietnamese mother and grandmother, to his first job in the sweltering tobacco fields. The narrator, freed from the pressure of anyone ever reading it, pours his heart and story onto the pages. The result is a beautiful story of love, danger, family, abuse, race, class, and coming-of-age as Little Dog recalls his youth.
Whether it’s the fumbles of first love and attraction or the perils and tragedies of drug addiction, Ocean Vuong narrates it with the most beautiful prose I’ve ever read. However, though the writing was a huge factor in how much I loved this book, at times it became a bit much. In certain parts, the novel may have benefited from slightly simpler language. I also found the first thirty or forty pages hard to get through. Luckly, once I was past that point I was hooked and finished it in less than two days. I would recommend this book to any older teenagers or adults for a fascinating and deep read that is incredibly relevant to our modern day. I give it five out five stars.