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Customer Review

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensational!, August 30, 2010
This review is from: Bitter in the Mouth: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
To praise Bitter in the Mouth: A Novel as sensational is at once an understatement and a play on words for sensation, as in an exquisite sense of taste, is the essential ingredient of this brilliant and moving novel by Monique Truong.

I was immediately taken by the clever and unique word crafting of the first paragraph. I knew I was going to love this novel for the wit alone. By Chapter 2, I was so captivated by its eccentric characterizations and the clever plotting, I could hardly put the book down.

This is one of those special novels that must be read slowly to be experienced and savoured to the fullest. Reviews which spoil the plot are a real disservice to the reader.

This engaging story is at first reminiscent of Aimee Bender's The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel inasmuch as the heroine of Ms. Bender's novel, Rose, has the ability to taste emotion in food. In Bitter in the Mouth: A Novel Linda, its endearing and precocious heroine, has the ability to taste words. Whereas in Ms. Bender's story the special tasting ability is more a fantastical plot device, in Monique Truong's novel Linda possesses a very real but rare quality known as synesthesia. The fact that synesthesia is a scientifically established neurological condition causing the involuntary mixing of senses, Linda's character becomes all the more true-to-life and easy to connect with. We too can feel Linda's "incomings", those triggers which are often delightful pleasures for Linda but also bitter agitators.

Ms. Truong deftly presents to the reader Linda's experience of mixed senses with cleverly constructed sentences which articulate Linda's perceptions. The effective first person narrative by Linda is intimate and undisguised. Linda explains early ~

"For me, the words that didn't bring with them a taste were sanctuaries, a cloister in which I could hear the meaning as clear as my own heart beating. The rest of my vocabulary was populated by an order of monks who had broken their vows of silence and in this act had revealed themselves to me. Not their innermost feelings of sadness or ecstasy. Not the colors that they wore underneath their robes. But what they last placed in their mouths."

Ms. Truong has given us a truly beautiful and sensitive novel, resplendent with rich metaphors, reflecting the search, discovery and expression of personal identity. It speaks of love, understanding, acceptance and connection. It is a universal story about finding one's self within one's self, within our family, within our friendships, and within our personal relationships. It tells of finding our place in our past, in history, in our community and in society. It celebrates each our personal story. These common and sometimes mysterious facts of life are gently explored in Linda's search for her true self.

What is revealed through each beautifully written page of Bitter in the Mouth: A Novel is honest, witty and wise. It is also often sad and heartrending but always life affirming. It is a rewarding reading experience; a rich and sensual novel to be savoured and enjoyed.

I enthusiastically recommend this wonderful piece of fiction by the brilliant and gifted Monique Truong!
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 12, 2010 4:34:16 PM PDT
Hi Evalina,
Wow, I just wrote my review. Wasn't this a fabulous book?
PS As always, I love your review.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 4, 2010 6:54:57 AM PDT
Marilyn, I'm so sorry I didn't acknowledge your comment. I'm just getting caught up with responding to comments while I'm semi-coherent!

Yes, I loved this book and I loved Monique's debut novel: The Book of Salt: A Novel! She is an extraordinary talent. I am going to keep an eye on her ~ there is a lot of greatness in this little lady!

I also loved your review! I guess you could call us the mutual admiration society, eh? Evalina
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