Camilla Gibb’s, “The Beauty of Humanity Movement” is by far in my top 3 favorite books of 2010. This is a big statement, but it deserves to be in the top 3 for 3 reasons:.
– It was original
– The writing was brilliant
– It had the ability to make me laugh and cry at the same time
This is the fourth novel written by Camilla Gibb and the first one I’ve read by her. She writes about a different view of Vietnam, it is the story of the people who were underprivileged during the Vietnam war, it depicts how they survived back then and how they survive now. You will feel touched by the sense of humanity portrayed by each character in this outstanding fictional novel.
We begin the story with Old Man Hung who is a street vendor who sells the loved breakfast called pho, referred to many times in this novel as “the taste of home”. Hung’s pho has made him very popular with the people that travel the streets. He lives in a shack that was almost burned down by the Party, but it’s structure remains and therefore it seems fit to live in for Hung. Hung has a bond with a man named Binh, who was just a boy back in the day when Hung use to serve pho to his father Dao and a young Binh. The connection that these two made way back in the day, is still strong today, long after Dao “disappeared” when Binh was 5.
Hung feels a hot rush of pride fill his cheeks. Binh really is a son to him, if not by blood, then certainly through devotion. What is blood without relationship, without life shared, in any case?
Binh, now older, has a son in his 20’s named Tu, who was probably my favorite character in the book. He is a tour guide and like his father, has a deep connection with Hung. We hear from Tu throughout the story and his kindness and politeness are clearly portrayed in each situation that happens in the novel.
We are also introduced to Maggie, a Viet Kieu (which means a watered down version of a Vietnam resident), at a young age her father (an artist) sends her and her Mother off to America so they can escape the re-education camps that torture Vietnam residents. After being sent away at 5, she never sees her father again and she has travelled home to Vietnam to discover who he was and what he was all about, but it is increasingly difficult because she has no proof that he is her father.
The story shows an unconventional family coming together, despite the hardships they have all faced. As mentioned above, it is a brilliant read that is wholesome, touching and should be read by all of you.