le, thi diem thuy. The gangster we are all looking for, a novel.

AuthorGoldsmith, Francisca
PositionBook Review

le, thi diem thuy. The gangster we are all looking for, a novel. Random House, Anchor. 176p. c2003. 0-375-700021, $11.05. JSA *

In five chapters, le brings a fictionalized version of herself from arrival in southern California as a little girl and resettled Vietnamese boat refugee to the young adulthood from which she can look back, clear eyed but with warmth, on her parents with their difficult relationship, her own experiences growing up on the American margin, and early memories of village life in Vietnam. Both less complex and more eloquent than Dao Strom's similarly themed Grass Roof, Tin Roof (Houghton Mifflin, 2003), the images here are filtered through the understanding of a central character who is young enough, upon her arrival in America, to report the living conditions--sharing a room with her father and the four men who escaped and were resettled with them--without judgment on either their suitability or social inferences. She matures into a girl who understands both her own and her mother's frustrations when the reunited family moves to an address where the landlord ham-handedly shows his fears for his property as his tenants negotiate a new culture. In adolescence and young adulthood, this same girl...

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