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Pioneer Girl: A Novel Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (February 6, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670025097
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670025091
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Early Praise for Pioneer Girl:

“Elegant, sharp-eyed, and very funny, Pioneer Girl is ultimately about how one finds kinship—familial, cultural, literary—that transcends the usual lexicon about identity and belonging. Navigating Vietnamese ‘immigrant guilt’ and a stalled academic career, Lee Lien finds escape in trying to solve a literary mystery which leads her deep into her own heart and history. A wonderful read!”
—Cristina García, author of King of Cuba and Dreaming in Cuban 
 
“I love how the Little House legend takes a wild detour into contemporary life in Pioneer Girl. Bich Minh Nguyen’s wonderfully imagined literary history gets to the truth about mothers, daughters, frontiers, and the meaning of home. I couldn't put this down!” 
—Wendy McClure, author of The Wilder Life

About the Author

Bich Minh Nguyen (who goes by the name Beth) teaches literature and creative writing in San Francisco, where she
lives with her husband and their two children. Among her honors are a PEN/Jerard Fund Award and an American Book
Award. Her work has appeared in publications including the Found Magazine anthology and The New York Times.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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The protagonist is so easy to relate to.
Dona Bernard
The story was fairly well wrapped up, but at the same time, not everything was SO well wrapped up that felt unreal.
8thCyn
There is an interesting parallel between the lives of pioneers and immigrants as well.
Monika

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By mychellem on February 6, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I almost hate to admit it, but I got myself a little confused reading Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen and had to go back and reread the book's description to figure out just what it was that I was reading. It's a novel, but the characters are so convincing that I started to feel like I was reading a non-fiction memoir.

I've reread the Little House books as an adult, but it still amazes me how many details from those books are stuck so clearly in my memory. Reading this book made me want to revisit them. If you're not already familiar with Rose Wilder Lane and her possible role in writing the Little House books, it's an interesting story. Those facts are woven in with Lee's pursuit of the truth behind her gold pin. I highly recommend this one.

Disclosure -- the publisher provided me with a review copy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By LKM on February 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover
The cover of this book reminded me of illustrations seen on Lois Lenski's books for young readers. Books I used to read back when I was in grade school, and enjoyed for the wholesome stories they told of life back in the olden days. Pioneer Girl has nothing to do with Lois's works though. Instead, it relates more to Laura Ingalls Wilder's book by the same name. Thus, if you enjoyed stories of Laura in the Big Woods as a child, I think you should read this book.

There is a part in the beginning of this book that reveals a secret, and foolishly I felt a rush of excitement as I discovered what the secret meant. I felt as though I were the one that had put the pieces together to make sense of what the characters had already found. The rest of the story is like this somewhat--letting the reader feel as though they are a step ahead of the characters, when in reality the reader is not. I was so enthralled by the story this book told that I had a hard time setting it down. It weaves a tale that is fictional, but has a significant amount of true facts thrown in; making it easy for me as a reader to believe the story to be partially true. I will admit, as I began to read this book, I found myself looking at the cover and synopsis several times, just to make sure it really was fiction.

[...]
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Format: Hardcover
Pioneer Girl dissects the intersection of culture and family. It puts under the microscope the life of immigrants and how they assimilate into American culture. But this is only part of Lee's story: the tense relationship with her mother; knowing she is not the favored child--that is reserved for her older brother, the one who should take over the family business and care for their widowed mother in her golden years; the way Lee's mother clings to the old ways while Lee as a child struggled to fit in as a Vietnamese-American; and Lee's overwhelming desire to break away while not knowing exactly what she wants or where she belongs.

Woven into Lee's family story is the well-known tale of the Ingalls family, pioneers whose journeys were chronicled in the classic Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder that Lee enjoyed as a child. Convinced the gold-leaf brooch her mother brought to America with other treasured possessions was originally left behind by Rose Wilder Lane, Lee's search brings her through library archives and Laura Ingalls Wilder museums; and a surprise discovery leads her to San Francisco where Rose one lived in an attempt to connect past and present.

Though I believe having a love for the Little House books, Laura Ingalls Wilder, or the Little House on the Prairie television show adds a greater depth to the enjoyment of Pioneer Girl, anyone will be captivated by this masterfully told, heartrending and inspiring story of one woman's journey to find her place within her family and to boldly embrace the future. Well-drawn characters, rich descriptions, and the exploration of physical and metaphorical frontiers help to create an outstanding novel you will remember long after you've read the last word.

Highly recommended.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a very picky reader when it comes to fiction, but I absolutely LOVED this book! The protagonist is so easy to relate to. I too was a young grade schooler lost in the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder. There are few books that for me are "hard to put down" until completion, but "Pioneer Girl" IS one of them. The research done on the Wilder family fascinated me and the mystery of whether or not Rose might have given a child up for adoption (based on a letter found by the story's heroine) kept me turning the pages. And I loved how the main character's grandfather once knew an American woman named Rose who would frequent his cafe in Saigon (yes, Rose did travel the world and was great writer herself). Bich Minh Nguyen, THANK YOU so much for writing a superior novel!
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By 8thCyn on April 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I read this book in less than twelve hours; I honestly can’t remember the last time that happened! Partly it was because I was stuck in a hospital waiting room with no WiFi or cell service, but it was also that Pioneer Girl grabbed me in a way that I didn’t expect. From the descriptions of life as an American-born daughter of Vietnamese refugees, to the literary – and as far as I am aware, completely fictional – mystery that Lee discovers, I was drawn into the world of this book.

Lee’s relationship with her family is complicated. There is no other way to say it. Her mother criticizes her every move, and favours her spoiled, angry older brother, while her grandfather just wants to keep the peace between everyone.

Of course, every book has its issues: there were time when descriptions went on so long (I’m thinking in particular of a section detailing the life of workers in a Chinese buffet restaurant) that they were practically stand alone essays. I know there were reviewers who took issue with there being a lot of “show, don’t tell” in the book, but that’s never been a rule I really understood. If it is told in an engaging manner, what difference should it make? I was also a little disappointed with the somewhat obvious choice in a part near the end… but I can’t say more than that without spoiling things.

I liked that the book didn’t have a neat, tidy ending. The story was fairly well wrapped up, but at the same time, not everything was SO well wrapped up that felt unreal.

Overall, I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a story with an interesting journey, even if they don’t know anything about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane, or the Little House books.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars
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