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Extended Audio Sample Short Girls: A Novel, by Bich Minh Nguyen Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (494 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Bich Minh Nguyen Narrator: Alice H. Kennedy Publisher: Brilliance Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2009 ISBN: 9781423391067
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Van and Linny Luong are temperamental opposites. Diligent, unassuming Van has found her calling as an immigration lawyer in the Midwestern suburbs, but no one knows that her picture-perfect marriage has suddenly evaporated. Her younger sister, Linny, fashion-forward and socially adept, lives in Chicago where she has drifted into a dead-end affair with a married man. Though both women feel untethered and burdened by a secret, they’ve never been able to confide in each other.

But then, after nearly thirty years in the US, their eccentric, invention-obsessed father decides to take the citizenship oath—a rite of passage he hopes will improve the prospects of his most prized creation, the “Luong Arm,” an instrument to help short people grasp objects that are out of reach. When Van and Linny reluctantly heed the summons home they end up having to plan a celebration for him, replete with cha gio egg rolls and encounters with old friends from years past.

In the time warp of a childhood home unaltered since their mother’s death and insulated by the same Vietnamese American community they grew up with, Van and Linny find they are bound by much more than the duties of culture and family history, or their aging father’s demands and whims. As they chart the uncertainty that has defined them, as well as the bitter irony of their romantic straits, Van and Linny discover in their common cause a new, enduring connection that sees them through the host of surprises to come.

Bich Minh Nguyen was hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “a writer to watch, a tremendous talent” for her debut memoir, Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, and her charm and shrewd powers of observation are on brilliant display here in her first novel. By turns deeply moving, wickedly urbane, and utterly entertaining, Short Girls chronicles the pitfalls and triumphs that govern all family lives. Nguyen’s insights into the complexities of duty, culture, and ambition often shared by the children of immigrants make Van and Linny’s story fresh and unforgettable—a true American tale for our time.

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen | 2/15/2014

    " I loved Bich Minh Nguey's memoir Stealing Buddha's Dinner and was excited to read her first novel. It did not disappoint. Here is the story of two second-generation Vietnamese women in America, sisters who drew apart from one another in high school when one became the studious book nerd, the other the popular pretty one. Now adults, one's marriage is falling apart while the other is carrying on an affair with a married man. Both sisters come home to celebrate their eccentric and difficult father's citizenship party, where they reconnect. Great characters, believable plot, satisfying read overall. I look forward to more of Nguyen's ficiton. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Marvin | 2/11/2014

    " Not much of a plot here--two young women, Vietnamese American sisters ("short girls) with sharply contrasting personalities in Ann Arbor, Michigan, & Chicago, address their failed relationships with men, their father (near Grand Rapids, Michigan), & each other--& there's not much else to recommend it, either. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susie | 1/27/2014

    " I liked this because I am one. And I want a luong arm. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gen | 1/19/2014

    " -4.5 stars "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary-Ann | 1/18/2014

    " Somewhat better than her memoir Stealing Buddha's Dinner . "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marcia | 12/20/2013

    " Story tales place in Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Detroit & Chicago. A Vietnamese family dealing with being immigrants and being short! Interesting, quick read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jan | 12/14/2013

    " Good but not great - I enjoyed the references to the Vietnamese culture although even that was limited - it was an OK read "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deanna | 12/12/2013

    " Interesting book. I liked it, it was an easy, short read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Carol M | 11/12/2013

    " I gave up about halfway through this book. Every time I picked it up, I found that I remembered almost nothing about what I'd already read. And I'm not THAT forgetful- it just didn't hold my interest. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kelly | 11/12/2013

    " This was a quick read for me. I liked the number of different characters and I really got their personalities, struggles and I was pulling for them to help have a happy ending at the end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy | 11/8/2013

    " This book got pretty mixed reviews, but I enjoyed it. The characters are engaging and the father is especially funny. Plus, the Michigan and Chicago references are fun. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Susanna | 11/6/2013

    " Lovely debut novel. As a non-native, great to read a book set in West Michigan "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angela | 10/31/2013

    " I really identified with Van, the older, studious sister, in this book about culture, identity, family, and love. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Justme | 10/18/2013

    " was good, about sisters and immigration and generation and yah, i love me this stuff! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Danny Lynn | 9/4/2013

    " Another great book by Nguyen. I loved her memoirs, and this one, while a novel, still references lots of memorable places in GR, Ann Arbor and Lincoln Park. If you're a Michigan native I highly recommend. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sara | 4/28/2013

    " not as good as stealing buddha's dinner; depressing really about a relationship that falls apart. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Claire | 4/24/2013

    " This book isn't bad but I had absolutely no interest in it. I basically carried it around with me intending to read it and never read more than a paragraph at a time because it couldn't capture my attention. At 50 pages in I still didn't really care about the characters still and I finally gave up. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 marsha | 4/14/2013

    " A story about 2 Vietnamese American sisters. The lack of communication and understanding between them, and the clashes between the 2 cultures are the heart of the book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Margaret | 3/22/2013

    " Sisters, Van and Linny, couldn't be more different - Van the overachiever and Linny the fashionable flighy one. Both were born in America to Vietnamese parents who as boat people with their parents. Some insights into the Vietnamese immigrant experience but a little too fluffy to provide much depth. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Delight | 11/5/2012

    " I so loved Bich's first book and had really high hopes for this one, but was disappointed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Merrill | 8/20/2012

    " I enjoyed this even more than I thought I would. Great character development, good study of the immigrant experience. Realistic dialogue, plot and ending. Highly recommended. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jcamille Wyatt | 3/17/2012

    " Good book. The characters could have been a bit more thoroughly developed. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laura | 2/1/2012

    " Predictable in many ways, but not a bad read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 6/3/2011

    " Not one of my usual mystery novels, this was a nice change of pace for me and a good story w/ insight into the Asian American culture. Also, I am a short girl. :) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jan | 6/1/2011

    " Good but not great - I enjoyed the references to the Vietnamese culture although even that was limited - it was an OK read "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anne | 4/17/2011

    " I love that so much of the story is set in Michigan - between Ann Arbor, Detroit and Grand Rapids. The author made me feel like I was back home! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Iuliana | 3/29/2011

    " An amazing story about two sisters coming to terms with their own lives, members of their family and community, and coming into their own.

    A great story about Asian-Americans, and what it means to be an immigrant - and a naturalized citizen - in today's society. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy | 1/28/2011

    " This book got pretty mixed reviews, but I enjoyed it. The characters are engaging and the father is especially funny. Plus, the Michigan and Chicago references are fun. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Alison | 1/21/2011

    " Good writing, but the story was lacking. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jeannie | 12/9/2010

    " Fun to read about girls close to my age and place in life. Characters seemed like cliches, though, and scenes, memories were over-written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kerry | 12/4/2010

    " interesting look at 1st generation Vietnamese immigrants in the Midwest. Good, solid writing; captivating characters but not stunning. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kelly | 11/28/2010

    " This was a quick read for me. I liked the number of different characters and I really got their personalities, struggles and I was pulling for them to help have a happy ending at the end. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Carol | 9/17/2010

    " I gave up about halfway through this book. Every time I picked it up, I found that I remembered almost nothing about what I'd already read. And I'm not THAT forgetful- it just didn't hold my interest. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Tracey | 9/7/2010

    " Not enjoying this and thinking of giving up!

    Have now given up!! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Justme | 8/29/2010

    " was good, about sisters and immigration and generation and yah, i love me this stuff! "

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