Gorgeously illustrated with a personal view on the war, Such a Lovely Little War is a beautiful graphic novel about the early years of the Vietnam War. I learned a lot reading this book. It's wonderfully done.
From a child's perspective, Truong writes an excellent child's narrative about his own family returning to Saigon during the early 60s. The illustrations are dramatic and effective and show the dichotomy of a city trying to maintain its modern existence in a time of political turmoil, confusion and all the while, having bombs explode across the street. Using his own young voice, Truong expresses natural bewilderment with a sense of objectivity while depicting the devastation of his father's home city, country and his marriage.
I grew up in the shadow of the generation that either fought in the Vietnam War or fought in the streets against the Vietnam War, so much of my sense of the tragedy of this conflict comes from hearing and reading about the experiences of these American soldiers and activists. A recent string of impactful graphic memoirs by Vietnamese-American authors have introduced an intriguing opportunity to see the bitter years of war through the eyes of young children living in the heart of the conflict.
One of these titles is "Such A Lovely Little War" by Marcelino Truong. His compelling text masterfully weaves together the historical narrative of the growing Vietnamese civil war intermixed with vignettes of his happy childhood in the vibrant city of Saigon in the early sixties. Truong's father was a diplomat for the South Vietnamese government and this sharpens the author's insight into the emerging, if uneasy, relationship between the Kennedy and the Diem administrations as the nascent conflict between the communist north and the nationalist south deepens. Just as premonitions of the fighting start to pierce the consciousness of the young Marcelino and his siblings, so do the signs of his mother's increasing struggle with undiagnosed bi-polar disorder. With so much unease, young Marcelino still delights in playing with his siblings and traveling around the city with his caretaker. Truong skillfully partners his captivating writing with deft black-on-white line drawings, heightened by occasional dramatic washes of color, that bring Saigon to life, even as the shadows gathering around it grow deeper.
I highly recommend this title to readers who enjoy graphic novels, memoirs interlaced with history, family stories, and those interested in the Vietnam War. It is a suitable book for late middle school reader through adults. I also recommend the following two graphic novels written by Vietnamese-Americans about the war and the immigrant experience: "Vietnamerica: A Family's Journey" by G.B. Tran and "The Best We Could Do" by Thi Bui.
Interesting and moving story, though a bit text heavy for a graphic novel.
Great illustrations, good story.
Excellent read and beautiful graphics that tells the story of Vietnam war through the eyes of the little boy.
MelissaBee thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over
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