reader’s guide to


1. While Lum floundered in America, he has become the model success story in Vietnam. Why is it significant that his transformation happens amidst the new, capitalism-embracing doi moi reforms of Ho Chi Minh City?

2. Many Vietnamese families were torn apart after the war, with some remaining in Vietnam, and others departing for different countries around the world. Why do you think Sanh and Tuyet’s chose to leave the Truong family and go alone to America? Was it ultimately the right choice?

3. How are Lum and Cherry treated differently by their parents while they are growing up? How do you think this affects the children’s relationship with each other and their views of themselves?

4. The novel toggles between the Truong and Vo families in France and America. What do their experiences tell you about the immigration experience and differences between the Vietnamese communities in the two countries?

5. Can you find any similarities between Kim-Ly’s attempt to broker a marriage between her daughter and an American officer in Vietnam, and her meddling in her granddaughter Duyen’s entry in the Little Miss Little Saigon beauty pageant in America?

6. The chapters are interspersed with letters from Tuyet to Kim-Ly, and Hung to a mysterious woman named Cuc. These are the only times we hear the perspectives of Tuyet and Hung. Do these letters help you to understand the decisions they make?

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