Bitter in the Mouth by Monique Truong
A Novel

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Synopsis

Bitter in the Mouth is a brilliant, virtuosic novel about a young woman’s search for identity and the true meaning of family.

“What I know about you, little girl, would break you in two” are the prophetic last words that Linda Hammerick’s grandmother says to her. Growing up in small-town North Carolina in the 1970s and ’80s, Linda already knows that she is profoundly different from everyone else, including the members of her own family. She can “taste” words. In this and in other ways, her body is a mystery to her. Linda’s awkward girlhood is nonetheless enlivened and emboldened by her dancing great-uncle Harper, and Kelly, her letter-writing best friend. Linda makes her way north to college and then to New York City, trying her best to leave her past behind her like “a pair of shoes that no longer fit.” But when a family tragedy compels her to return home, Linda uncovers the startling secrets of her past. Monique Truong’s acclaimed novel questions our assumptions about what it means to be a family and to be a friend, to be foreign and to be familiar, to be connected to and disconnected from our bodies, our histories, ourselves.

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About Monique Truong

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Monique Truong was born in Saigon and currently lives in New York City. Her first novel, The Book of Salt, was a New York Times Notable Book. It won the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, the 2003 Bard Fiction Prize, the Stonewall Book Award-Barbara Gittings Literature Award, and the 7th Annual Asian American Literary Award, and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and Britain's Guardian First Book Award. She is the recipient of the PEN American Robert Bingham Fellowship, and was awarded the Hodder Fellowship at Princeton for 2007-2008.
 
Published August 31, 2010 by Random House. 305 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Bitter in the Mouth

Kirkus Reviews

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Now a lawyer whose fiancé leaves her when cancer makes childbearing impossible, Linda discovers she has an actual neurological condition called synesthesia, which causes “involuntary mixing of the senses.” She also finally acknowledges what readers have long suspected: by birth Linda is Vietnamese;

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The New York Times

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This novel’s protagonist grows up Asian-American in North Carolina.

Sep 08 2010 | Read Full Review of Bitter in the Mouth: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Linda Hammerick has a special yet burdensome gift--she experiences words as tastes.

Jun 21 2010 | Read Full Review of Bitter in the Mouth: A Novel

The Bookbag

Summary: Frustrating Southern Gothic novel is wonderfully lyrical in parts, but lacks much of a plot and the way Truong chooses to represent her central character's synesthesia makes the dialogue difficult to read.

Aug 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Bitter in the Mouth: A Novel

Oregon Live

Monique Truong burst onto the literary scene in 2004 with "The Book of Salt," the story of a gay Vietnamese man who becomes the cook for Gertrude Stein and Alice B.

Aug 28 2010 | Read Full Review of Bitter in the Mouth: A Novel

NJ.com

Old letters and photographs — sealed away decades ago — are revealed, shedding light on Linda’s personal history.

Sep 04 2011 | Read Full Review of Bitter in the Mouth: A Novel

MostlyFiction Book Reviews

Early on in Monique Truong’s powerful new novel, Bitter in the Mouth, the narrator, Linda Hammerick, realizes her family is keeping secrets from her.

Sep 01 2010 | Read Full Review of Bitter in the Mouth: A Novel

Bookmarks Magazine

The Vietnamese-born Monique Truong earned many awards for her first novel, The Book of Salt ( 4 of 5 Stars Selection July/Aug 2003), the story of a gay Vietnamese man who cooks for Gertrude Stein and Alice B.

Sep 01 2010 | Read Full Review of Bitter in the Mouth: A Novel

Red Room

Unlike Asian American cultural nationalists, Andrew Lam is not invested in criticizing how white Anglo-Saxon culture changed Asian American culture negatively;

Mar 23 2012 | Read Full Review of Bitter in the Mouth: A Novel

Kepler's

They also foreshadow a secret correspondence between Linda's father and a young Vietnamese woman, a revelation that makes Linda realize that she harbors yet another secret, a secret concealed in those long-ago letters, the secret of why the bitter taste was her first memory.

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Star News Online

it's Linda's favorite novel and for quite a while she professes a crush on the character Dill.)She loves her friend Kelly, with whom she carries on a correspondence that runs on for decades and thousands of letters.She does not particularly love her mother, DeeAnne, who emerges as a...

Oct 09 2010 | Read Full Review of Bitter in the Mouth: A Novel

Reader Rating for Bitter in the Mouth
64%

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