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The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in Vietnam by [Dana Sachs]

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The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in Vietnam Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 34 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Part memoir and part travelogue, The House on Dream Street offers a compelling glimpse into Vietnam more than 20 years after the war. Author Dana Sachs foregoes the history lesson and instead takes us into the day-to-day lives of working-class people attempting to succeed in a fledgling capitalist economy. Captivated by the once-forbidden country during a visit in 1989, Sachs returned two years later, took a room with a young family, and set out to immerse herself in the culture.

One of the most charming aspects of the book is that Sachs lacks the bravado you'd expect from a solo traveler. Her slow grasp of the language causes no end of frustration, and her Western looks--"bigger, paler, and richer"--make her an object of unwanted attention. Other facets of crowded Hanoi prove equally challenging: maneuvering a bicycle through dangerously narrow streets, fending off the frequent advances of married Vietnamese men, and coping with the complete lack of privacy as well as the elusive Vietnamese concept of destiny. Despite the often-primitive conditions, the watchful eyes of the secret police, and the intolerable, mildewy weather, Sachs manages to portray her newfound home as an explosion of sensory experience, where "the rich, woody scent of freshly steamed rice" fills the air and "commuters whizzed past... their bright clothes trailing pink, orange, purple, and green across the blue-black asphalt of the road." And then there are the people: Tung, her friendly but on-the-make landlord who loves heavy metal; Huong, his critical but loyal wife who harbors untold hidden strengths; Tra, desperate to return to the States and get her doctorate, even at the expense of her marriage; and Linh, also yearning to escape her husband's tight reins. In fact, most of the women with whom Sachs bonds are torn between their family obligations and a dawning realization of their own rights.

Even as her friends struggle to balance personal goals with marital happiness, Sachs finds herself drawn to Phai, a quiet, inexperienced motorcycle mechanic. Their love affair, illegal and unspoken, flames steadily and then flickers out, as the author finds herself unable to overcome their differences and the prospect of marrying into Phai's impoverished family. In the end, she realizes her love for Phai is only a personification of her romance with the country itself--but it's as a chronicle of that romance that The House on Dream Street truly succeeds. In telling the story of her own discovery and growth, Sachs provides a distinctively personal view of a rapidly evolving country as well as the families who are weathering the transition. --Lisa Costantino --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

From Booklist

For a long time after the war, Americans weren't allowed to travel to Vietnam. It was still, in American minds, an enemy country. Once visas were offered in the 1990s, an American woman turns up in Hanoi to begin an acquaintance with Vietnam and the people who would be her hosts. Sachs offers many impressions of a Vietnam, modern yet still steeped in Oriental culture and tradition. To her Western eyes, the changes in Vietnam are most apparent in the changes in her friends, who mainly seem to be concentrating on succeeding in the eclectic mix of creeping capitalism and communism. Although the Vietnamese have yet to come to harmony with their struggling economy, they do seem to have stopped seeing themselves as victims of an American war. Throughout this memoir, the hospitality of her Vietnamese friends is the glue that unites this westerner with this still foreign but friendly people. Marlene Chamberlain
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B007R686EW
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Algonquin Books; 1st edition (September 8, 2000)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ September 8, 2000
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 1111 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 360 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 34 ratings

Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
34 global ratings
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4 star
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3 star
22%
2 star 0% (0%) 0%
1 star 0% (0%) 0%
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5.0 out of 5 stars Holiday read
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