Rating: 4 / 5
I spotted a copy of ON EARTH WE’RE BRIEFLY GORGEOUS by Ocean Vuong on my first trip back to the used book store post shut-down and immediately grabbed it up. I didn’t know a lot about it, but I had seen a lot of positive reviews! It seemed the perfect book to pick up between AAPI month in May and Pride in June.
The book is written as a letter from a son to his mother. The narrator is in his 20s, but he goes back in time to talk about his history and his family’s before him. The family comes from Vietnam, though the narrator and his single mother new live in the United States, but are sometimes stuck in between worlds. A lot of this story would be news to his mother, areas of the narrator’s life that he didn’t share with her.
I went into this book expecting it to be very emotional and it certainly was that. The author’s writing is gorgeous which makes sense being that he is a poet. This was beautifully done on audio as well. My heart heart for our young narrator and the ways he was struggling with his identity and with what he could and couldn’t share with his mother. For a relatively small book, the author really manages to pack a lot of heart and heartache in.
There are trigger warnings for this one with child abuse animal abuse, drug abuse, and homophobia so it isn’t an easy read. I’m also not generally one to read books with graphic sex scenes and this had more than I had initially expected.
Overall this was a very impactful read and one that I’m glad that I picked up!
#AroundTheYearIn52Books – a book with a monochrome cover