Spanning three generations and three countries (Vietnam, France, and the United States), The Reeducation of Cherry Truong is the story of interrelated families forever split because of a decision made by one man. Cherry (pronounced like the fruit) Truong, having grown up in Little Saigon, California, does not know what happened all those years ago, but her efforts to convince her brother to return to California will finally expose her family’s secrets. Under the leadership of Cherry’s maternal grandmother, Cherry and her cousins are living quite comfortably in California and have promising futures. Now, however, her grandmother worries that some of her weaker grandchildren are looking for shortcuts to the easy life.
Things have not gone quite as well in Paris for Cherry’s paternal grandparents and her uncles but, there too, her cousins are preparing themselves for what they hope will be brighter futures. Sadly, her grandfather is suffering from Alzheimer’s now, one of her aunts is unstable, and her grandmother has discovered a family secret on her own. After visits to Paris and Vietnam, Cherry Truong’s reeducation will be done and she will understand the full impact of the choice her grandfather made all those years ago.
Readers should, from the beginning, refer to the two family trees offered at the beginning of the book. Ms. Phan uses a series of old letters and flashbacks to several different points in time (and to all three countries mentioned earlier) to tell her story. Paying attention up front to the various relationships will make it all much easier to keep track of - and will provide the reader with a much more rewarding experience.
(Review Copy provided by Publisher)