Pioneer Girl: A Novel

Bich Minh Nguyen

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Pioneer Girl: A Novel

Pioneer Girl A Novel Jobless with a PhD Lee Lien returns home to her Chicago suburb from grad school only to find herself contending with issues she s evaded since college But when her brother disappears he leaves behi

  • Title: Pioneer Girl: A Novel
  • Author: Bich Minh Nguyen
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 381
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Jobless with a PhD, Lee Lien returns home to her Chicago suburb from grad school, only to find herself contending with issues she s evaded since college But when her brother disappears, he leaves behind an object from their mother s Vietnam past that stirs up a forgotten childhood dream a gold leaf brooch, abandoned by an American reporter in Saigon back in 1965, that miJobless with a PhD, Lee Lien returns home to her Chicago suburb from grad school, only to find herself contending with issues she s evaded since college But when her brother disappears, he leaves behind an object from their mother s Vietnam past that stirs up a forgotten childhood dream a gold leaf brooch, abandoned by an American reporter in Saigon back in 1965, that might be an heirloom belonging to Laura Ingalls Wilder As Lee explores the tenuous facts of this connection, she unearths than expected a trail of clues and enticements that lead her from the dusty stacks of library archives to hilarious prairie life reenactments and ultimately to San Francisco, where her findings will transform strangers lives as well as her own.A dazzling literary mystery about the true origins of a time tested classic, Pioneer Girl is also the deeply moving tale of a second generation Vietnamese daughter, the parents she struggles to honor, the missing brother she is expected to bring home even as her discoveries yield dramatic insights that will free her to live her own life to its full potential.

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      Posted by:Bich Minh Nguyen
      Published :2018-04-03T22:43:20+00:00

    One thought on “Pioneer Girl: A Novel

    1. Dana on said:

      Note: My thoughts are all over the place after finishing this book and my review may reflect that, sorry for random ramblings. I hope you get the gist.Ever since I was a little kid, any mention of pioneers drew me in. Apparently I am still that same girl that becomes rapt with attention at the mention of anything from the “olden days”. I rarely read entire synopsis's of books since I feel that they often give way too much away, so when picking out books I read the back page's descriptions of [...]

    2. Jaylia3 on said:

      If this intriguing layered novel only told the family focused story of Lee Lien, a book-nerdy young woman with an on-hold academic career trying to straddle the contrasting cultures and conflicting expectations of modern America, where she was born, and traditional pre-war Vietnam, where her strong-willed mother and gracious grandfather spent the earlier parts of their lives, that would have been enough to capture my interest. If instead Pioneer Girl was simply a literary mystery, with Lee Lien [...]

    3. Jennifer Donovan on said:

      Fans of Little House on the Prairie, owners of the boxed set (either pale blue like mine or pale yellow if you are a bit younger than I), as I am, will be charmed by parts of this book.I was. But it wasn't quite enough. In fact, the memoir The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie gave me those same feelings, but in a more cohesive unit. This "novel" felt derivative of that.I put novel in quotes because it really reads like a memoir, from the long ambling pa [...]

    4. Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~ on said:

      This was a cute book with ties to The Little House on the Prarie. I grew up reading those books with my mom and sister, so I knew I would like this. Vietnamese American woman coming to terms with her mothers passing, a surprising object and a missing brother. Right up my alley kind of book.

    5. Megan on said:

      The story of Lee Lien, a second generation Vietnamese American was very frustrating. There is a lot of repetition-- she fights with her mother and loses, she fights with her brother and loses, she thinks about her family history, but never digs too deeply. Lien (a thinly fictionalized version of the author) delves into the story of Rose Wilder Lane, the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Nguyen here retreads old scholars, particularly the author of The Ghost in the Little House. There is nothing [...]

    6. Diane S ☔ on said:

      An interesting look at second generation immigrants from Viet Nam. Lee Lien was always looking for home, her mother and grandfather ran Chinese buffets alternately owning their own strip mall Chinese restaurants. They went from one place in the Midwest to another and Lee and her brother Sam disdained their way of life.Lee, after a story her grandfather told about Rose Wilder Lane and a piece of jewelry she left in their place of business in Vietnam, starts piecing together the life of Laura and [...]

    7. Jolene on said:

      **Thank you Penguin and Netgalley for providing this in exchange for an honest review**3.5 StarsLee is a second generation Vietnamese American who is trying to find her place in the world. She has recently finished her PhD, and like many recent graduates of her generation, can't find employment. After awhile, she admits defeat and returns home. While this never part of anyone's plan, most people would receive a sense of comfort from returning. Most people would receive support from their parents [...]

    8. Kelly on said:

      After reading the Little House books last summer, it really made me wonder if those books had meaning to girls who weren't middle class and white Americans. And that's sort of at the premise of this book, though this is about a woman who has just completed her PhD and begins to see the ways her life mirrors much of Rose Wilder, Laura's mother. Lee is Vietnamese American who finds herself back at home helping her mother and grandfather run the family restaurant. She dreams of finding her way out [...]

    9. Morris on said:

      “Pioneer Girl” is an absolutely wonderful novel about a Vietnamese woman born to immigrant parents in the 1970s.As a child, Lee Lien was obsessed with the Little House on the Prairie books as she and her family moved from place to place, looking for a better life. As an adult, she begins to trail a story that goes back to her mother’s childhood in Saigon. The search for the full story makes for a wonderful literary mystery that would be enough to make a good read on its own. However, there [...]

    10. Sarah on said:

      At times a bit dull, but mostly a great read that weaves a believable ending to Rose Wilder Lane's life, though it fluffed over her more assholish libertarian beliefs. The novel does really speak to me as a fellow nonwhite girl who was obsessed with Little House growing up, while being all too aware of its problems and knowing full well it didn't love us back. I obviously also found myself in the academic struggles, even though I'm not even at comps yet. I'm curious if the parallels of mother-da [...]

    11. Bailey on said:

      Somewhere between a 4 and a 5 for me. The narrative was incredible, and read more realistically than some memoirs I've read. I kept having to remind myself that it was a novel. But at the same time, the threads pulled at each other a little too much sometimes and felt a little thin. That said, I still loved this book, and what it says about the American Dream and who is an American and what that actually means was really profound, all through the lens of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family.

    12. Leah on said:

      edited January, 2015: my rereadthis review goes live on the blog 02/03 along with a giveaway!Shortly after obtaining her PhD yet still unable to find a job, Lee Lien returns home. Her relationship with her mother is frosty at best, yet her beloved grandfather always finds a way to smooth things over. The family's latest restaurant, the Lotus Leaf, has a steady string of customers, and Lee is more than ready to try a few changes, switch things around in an attempt to really get business booming. [...]

    13. Trish at Between My Lines on said:

      This review was originally posted on Between My LinesHands up, I have to admit that I ADORE The Little House on the Prairie- both the books and the TV show.  I read these with my mother and they are the ultimate in comfort books for me.  So as soon as I saw Pioneer Girl, I knew I needed it in my paws! First Line of Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen “In August 1965 a woman named Rose walked into my granfather’s cafe in Saigon.” My Thoughts on Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen: There are thr [...]

    14. Renae Pérez on said:

      I honestly thought Pioneer Girl was nonfiction; I really did. Somehow the very clear “a novel” printed on the front cover of the book escaped me completely. Imagine my surprise to find that, though this book has all the trappings of a memoir, Bich Minh Nguyen actually telling a quite made-up story. It took me a little while to realize that, but once it did, my approach and perspective in reading this book shifted dramatically.Because, what I thought was going to be an investigative look into [...]

    15. Becky on said:

      At first, I wanted to love Pioneer Girl. I then settled for wanting to like it. It has an interesting premise: A Vietnamese coming-of-age story with a Little House connection. Lee grew up reading the Little House books. She may not want to admit to liking or loving the TV show, but, the books she loves, has always loved. Her parents came from Vietnam to America in the 1970s. She was born and raised in the Midwest. Her parents, particularly her mother and her grandfather, were almost always in th [...]

    16. Paige on said:

      4, maybe even 4.5.I saw this book at the university library when I was looking for a different book. I was drawn by the cover--I loved the artwork on it. I didn't actually check it out because the jacket copy tied it so intimately to Little House on the Prairie, and I read one of those book as a kid, but I was like, how much do I really care about someone's ties to that book? But the next time I was in the library it still seemed to be calling to me, so I went ahead and checked it out.I'm real [...]

    17. Kelly Hager on said:

      THIS BOOK.You remember that fairly recently I mainlined my way through the Little House on the Prairie books which, somehow, I managed to not read as a child. This book managed to bring the delight of that back.Granted, it's more about Lee's life and family but there are obviously a lot of parts that deal with Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter, Rose. This book is so smart and funny and touching, and I absolutely loved Lee.I love the idea that you could somehow find a connection in your life [...]

    18. Margaret Sullivan on said:

      I must be really dumb, because it took me a third of this book to figure out that it was fiction, despite "A NOVEL" right there on the cover. I don't normally like most memoirs, so the fact that I was riveted from page one should have been a clue. This is an imaginative conception of how the world of the child of Vietnamese immigrants could intersect with that of the uber-American Little House books. I am not as on-board as the author (or at least the narrator) seemed to be with Rose's heavy han [...]

    19. KatieSuzanne on said:

      Having grown up in the Bay Area with a lot of second generation Vietnamese friends, some who even ran restaurants, I connected more with that aspect of the story more than the Little House references. And were the Little House references true? Was that part of the story real? The story didn't feel complete in any way, there were absolutely no conclusions to any of the plot lines, not one. It could have been really interesting but basically fell flat leaving me only with a craving for Banh Mi san [...]

    20. Wendy on said:

      I really dug this; lots of moving parts and I liked the way they fit together. The comments on academia seemed as deeply true as the comments on being first generation and on being part of a restaurant family. As far as I remember (it's been a few months), the Laura Ingalls Wilder info was close to excellent, but Nguyen was definitely more of a Rose Wilder Lane admirer than I'll ever be. Still, it comes across as a valid viewpoint, and I'm a Rose-hater, so.

    21. Lacy on said:

      After reading Prairie Fires, I wanted to continue with my Laura Ingalls Wilder reading quest. This fictional book traces a brooch that Rose, Laura's daughter, left in Vietnam while on assignment for a newspaper. Lee's attempts to track down more information takes her to many of the places that both Laura and Rose lived. Also provides a heartbreaking, at times, look into Lee's family dynamics (immigrant Vietnamese family).

    22. Nicole Overmoyer on said:

      The first books I ever remember having read to me were the “Little House on the Prairie” series. The first chapter books I read on my own were the “Little House on the Prairie” series. I watched every episode of the television show and still know the plots of many of them, though they have little relation to the books I’ve read to the point of being dog-eared.The point is, when I saw the cover of Bich Minh Nguyen’s PIONEER GIRL, I was hooked.I wanted to be Laura growing up. Why would [...]

    23. Lucy Barnhouse on said:

      I think there should be more books like this one: it's deliberately light reading, but it's also surprisingly lyrical, and surprisingly profound. Its protagonist, Lee, is a Vietnamese-American who's a recent Ph.D.: she's a scholar of physical place/space and spiritual belonging, and although she, disillusioned, often dismisses her work on Wharton as irrelevant to her lived experiences, it's poignantly easy for the reader to see the parallels between Wharton's feverishly anxious, grasping, lost p [...]

    24. Crizzle on said:

      It was really interesting that I began reading this when I did - it's a fiction story about a Vietnamese American girl traveling from the Midwest to San Francisco while learning the mysteries of Rose Wilder Lane's life (the one daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder). I began reading it in the Minneapolis airport flying to San Francisco I am also in the middle of reading "On the Banks of Plum Creek" to the girls. I loved all the Wilder history real or made-up, it was still fun. It was interesting to f [...]

    25. Kiki on said:

      3 starsI made a list of books for my book group to choose one month, and this was one of them. Several of us love the Little House books.The main character here is a young woman and grad student, raised in the Midwest by her Vietnamese mother and grandfather. She and her brother have moved often with their family, who open and run various Chinese style restaurants around the Midwest, a future neither child wants anything to do with. Although Lee is doing her graduate work on Edith Wharton, she i [...]

    26. Christina Dudley on said:

      There's a reason the book cover says, right under the title, "A Novel." That's for folks like me, who picked it up thinking it was a memoir (it reads like one), and then are bitterly disappointed that it's all fictional.Narrator Lee Lien is an English PhD with no job yet, who returns to the family restaurant to kill time until she figures out what to do next. Her own family's conflicts draw her into unraveling a family mystery: whether the little gold pin left in 1965 in her grandfather's cafe i [...]

    27. Paula on said:

      Lee and her family are poised for leaving at any moment, ever since her parents and grandfather left Vietnam in 1975. It seems to Lee they've been serving Asian food forever. Her grandmother was such a fine cook, she could "tell the quality of a dish by its scent alone." She's had a romance with the "Little House" books ever since she was a child and, when she finds herself still unemployed after post-grad work, she begins a journey further into the Midwest, looking for answers her mother and gr [...]

    28. Annette on said:

      Two and one half stars. Interesting premise- an American girl born to Vietnamese parents, tries to put her life into perspective by exploring the life of Rose Wilder Lane.There were no big revelations here. Nguyen draws on Lane's diaries, and the current consensus that Lane and her Mother worked together on Wilder's beloved Little House books.One of her research points was incorrect- Almanzo and Laura lived in Westville in Florida's panhandle, for less than a year working with Laura's cousin Pet [...]

    29. Salwa on said:

      A full review is posted on my blog.The plot of the story is fairly simple. What captured my interest was the mystery — of Rose Wilder Lane’s and Lee’s lives — and how the author was able to link their stories. I haven’t yet experienced a long term obsession with an object, a subject, a person, or anything, really, so I could not relate to Lee’s obsession to uncover the story behind the golden pin, which was what started it all. Fast forward to when Lee’s jobless with a Ph.D. (at 25 [...]

    30. Gabrielle on said:

      I liked the book but I see what other people mean when they say that it was different after Gregory entered the picture. I did not have any trouble distinguishing fact from fiction because I do know enough about the Little House books to know what is true and what isn't. Having said that I can also see how that would be problematic for other readers because not everyone knows a lot about the Little House books and maybe you shouldn't expect that level of knowledge from your readership. The compa [...]

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