SHORT GIRLS by Bich Minh Nguyen

short girlsLinny and Van Luong, are  two second-generation Vietnamese immigrant sisters from the American Midwest.  Their father is a wannabe inventor, and part-time tile setter.  Mom works for a department store, sewing alterations.  Dad constantly harps on the fact they are short, and short people have to work harder.  Always trying to get her dad’s attention and approval, the oldest, Van, is a quiet, not very social person, who works hard at her studies and becomes a lawyer.  She then marries a lawyer she met in school.

Her sister, Linny, never does well in school, but both girls, although fairly adversarial, can’t wait to leave the town and the small house.

Van’s husband has a big job with a big name law firm, and builds them a very ostentatious house.  Van works in immigration law.  Linny, always with a boyfriend, does not marry, and moves to Chicago, where she finally ends up working for a catering house which offers people the opportunity to come in to their facilities and make two weeks worth of meals, so they can say I did it myself.

The story focuses on Van’s deteriorating marriage, Linny’s struggle to find a place in the world, their relationships with their parents, and the whole immigrant issue.

I guess it is more chick lit than anything else, but the idea of stature dictating one’s life choices, and the whole immigration issue are what basically drive the story, without which it would just be another ¨two sisters who don’t get along and a sh*t  dog of a husband¨ tale.

It is a good read and was the winner of an American Book Award, and one of Library Journal’s Best Books of 2009.

As Dad keeps telling the girls, ¨Short people ain’t got no reason to live¨.


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