Book and Discussion

The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb
Grade: B+

The Beauty of Humanity Movement is the 2013 Reading Across Rhode Island choice, which is probably why it was picked for this month’s book discussion at my local library. I had been meaning to join a book discussion, and this book sounded decent, so I decided to give the whole thing a go.

The Beauty of Humanity Movement is set in present-day Vietnam. An indigent pho seller, Hu’ng, and his adopted family dig into the past as they attempt to help Maggie, an expatriate, find out what happened to her father, whom she last saw during the fall of Saigon.

In grading the book, I hesitated between a B+ and an A-. It was, perhaps, the difference between considering the main character to be the pho seller or to be the pho itself.  I give Hu’ng a B+ and the pho an A-. It’s not that the story was bad, or the writing. It’s just that it somehow never really touched me. I felt sad about the bad things that happened to the characters, but not sad on their behalves, just sad because those kinds of things happen in this world. Mostly I just wanted to eat some pho.

As for the book discussion, well, that was sort of odd. The book group is composed of seven or eight women. They are, by their own account, a tight-knit group and they rarely get newcomers. They neither welcomed me with open arms nor tried to shut me out. It was slightly awkward but not awful. The next meeting will be about The Thirteenth Tale, which I wouldn’t mind rereading, so maybe I’ll go. We’ll see.

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