Listen, Slowly

Listen, Slowly - Thanhha Lai

Mai would rather be resting and enjoying herself on the beach instead of spending six weeks in Vietnam beside her grandmother. It’s not meant to be punishment as Mai is the perfect child, but her father is a doctor and he has promised to attend to children who have special needs in the area and someone needs to be an escort for grandmother. Mother is busy with her court cases so the responsibility lies with Mai. The older woman is not feeble having successfully raised her children in the US since her husband went MIA in the war and now she is returning to the place where her husband was last seen, in the attempts that there is some new information about his whereabouts. Arriving in this strange country, Mai now wishes she had listened to the language her grandma had spoken as the words and the meanings of these words get scrambled in her mind. It is “the land of togetherness” as Mai never has a moment to herself with family, friends and acquaintances gathering, talking and enjoying each other. Ba immediately settles in, the sights and the sounds of her homeland are a welcome sight. Mai is bitter for being there but soon finds friendship and I am transported to this foreign country, taking in the sights with these two ladies who see the this world through two different sets of eyes. Ba wants to talk to the guard who was with her husband Ut and I long to hear this part of the story but I don’t want to push the journey of Mai and Ba to an end. The ending, I waited to read it, to savor it and fully enjoy it. This truly was a spectacular, moving adventure!!