Review by Booklist Review
Soli's debut revolves around three characters whose lives are affected by the Vietnam War. Helen Adams comes to Vietnam in the hopes of documenting the combat that took her brother from her. She immediately attracts the attention of the male journalists in the region, and quickly falls into an affair with the grizzled but darkly charismatic war photographer Sam Darrow. As Helen starts to make her own way as a photographer in Vietnam, drawing as much attention for her gender as for her work, Darrow sends her his Vietnamese assistant, Linh, a reluctant soldier who deserted the SVA in the wake of his wife's death. While Linh wants nothing more than to escape the war, Darrow and Helen are consumed by it, unable to leave until the inevitable tragedy strikes. The strength here is in Soli's vivid, beautiful depiction of war-torn Vietnam, from the dangers of the field, where death can be a single step away, to the emptiness of the Saigon streets in the final days of the American evacuation.--Huntley, Kristine Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
This suspenseful, eloquent, sprawling novel illustrates the violence of the Vietnam War as witnessed by three interconnected photographers. Helen Adams, the first woman combat photographer sent to cover the Vietnam war, navigates the boys' club of war photographers, pushing her way onto military missions. Soon after her arrival in Saigon, she falls under the spell of seasoned, jaded, and married Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, Sam Darrow, while also feeling a confusing pull toward his assistant, Linh, a Vietnamese ex-soldier and knowledgeable photographer and guide. Linh, who has lost his wife and entire family to the war, roams the country with Darrow and then Helen (whom Darrow asks Linh to protect). Soli looks at the complex motivations and ambitions of the waves of American photographers who descended on Vietnam seeking glory and fame through their gut-wrenching photos of mass graves, crippled children, and dying soldiers, while also reveling in sex, drugs, and good times as the war raged around them. This harrowing depiction of life and death shows that even as the country burned, love and hope triumphed. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
Seen through the lens of young American freelance photographer Helen Adams, this evocative debut novel is a well researched exploration of Vietnam between 1963 and 1975, when the United States pulled out of the conflict. Helen, who has come to Vietnam partly to discover what really happened to her brother, is determined to see the real Vietnam, combat and all. The narrative focuses on Adams, Pulitzer Prize-winning combat photojournalist Sam Darrow, and his Vietnamese assistant, Linh, revealing their relationships, loyalties, and ambitions and the terrible toll the war takes on them all. As readers, we come to understand the characters' attraction to and ambivalence about the war, how love can survive and thrive under such extreme conditions (Helen and Linh have an affair), the courage needed to report under war conditions and the journalistic principles involved, and the fragile beauty of this war-torn country and its people. Verdict Like Marianne Wiggins's Eveless Eden and Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried before it, Soli's poignant work will grab the attention of most readers. A powerful new writer to watch. [See Prepub Alert, LJ-Gwen Vredevoogd, Marymount Univ., Arlington, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
An impressive debut novel about a female photographer covering the Vietnam War. Helen Adams is an experienced photojournalist with ten years in Vietnam on her rsum. The cinematic opening chapter shows her at the center of the chaotic, violent, desperate streets of Saigon in 1975, on the cusp of the communist takeover, as Vietnamese and Americans race to escape. The narrative then flashes back to a decade earlier, when Helen arrives in bustling Saigon as a young, nave photographer so anxious not to "miss out" on the war that she has dropped out of college to travel there. Making up in grit what she lacks in experience, she secures photography work, scrappily clawing her way up from tamer lifestyle pieces to covering field missions and combat. She is taken in by a fellow ex-pat named Darrow, a photographer whose obsession with the war and the power his camera gives him to capture it dominates his every move. They enter into a tumultuous, passionate love affair as the war worsens. Though she fears becoming as reckless and singly motivated as Darrow, Helen transitions into a seasoned war photographer, battling her emotions about the inhumanity of war with her professional purpose. She also takes on a unique challenge as one of the few working female ex-pats in Vietnam. In tandem with the two Americans but undeniably distinct from them, Linh, Darrrow's enigmatic Vietnamese assistant, steadfastly walks the difficult line between patriot and traitor, and the three form a friendship out of their harrowing situation. When tragedy strikes, Linh and Helen are thrown together and eventually find their friendship developing into love. This is a visceral story about the powerful and complex bonds that war creates. It raises profound questions about professional and personal lives that are based on, and often dependent on, a nation's horrific strife. Graphic but never gratuitous, the gripping, haunting narrative explores the complexity of violence, foreignness, even betrayal. Moving and memorable. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.