Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Review Dragon House

Summary: From the critically acclaimed author of Beneath a Marble Sky and Beside a Burning Sea—the new novel from “a master storyteller,”* set in contemporary Asia.

From John Shors comes an unforgettable story of redemption set in modern-day Vietnam.

Dragon House tells the tale of Iris and Noah—two Americans who, as a way of healing their own painful pasts, open a center to house and educate Vietnamese street children. In the slums of a city that has known little but war for generations, Iris and Noah befriend children who dream of nothing more than of going to school, having a home, and being loved. Learning from the poorest of the poor, the most silent of the unheard, Iris and Noah find themselves reborn. Resounding with powerful themes of suffering, sacrifice, friendship, and love, Dragon House brings together East and West, war and peace, and celebrates the resilience of the human spirit.
-- New American Library

I've been on a kick lately reading a whole bunch of Christmas stories. I needed a little change of pace, so I decided to pick up DRAGON HOUSE by John Shors. I thought a story about two Americans who were opening a center to help Vietnamese street children sounded so interesting. Little did I know that this novel would have a similar effect on me as all of the holiday stories. DRAGON HOUSE deeply touched my heart and in so many ways made me realize how much I have to be grateful for.

This book definitely held my attention. I was quickly caught up in both Iris' and Noah's stories, and I thought both characters were extremely interesting. I like that Mr. Shors took the effort to fully develop their characters, and I found myself liking both of them very much. Of course once I was invested in their stories, I desperately hoped for that they would find some success -- for Iris, a completed and working center; and for Noah, just some peace of mind and freedom from pain. In addition to these characters, my heart just went out to all of the poor, homeless Vietnamese people especially the children. I found it so difficult to read some of the pages because I was deeply affected by the living conditions; and yet, I couldn't seem to put the book down. I had to find out what happened to all of the characters.

I am always interested in learning about other cultures, and I seem to be especially interested in Asia. I think Mr. Shors did a wonderful job of bringing modern day Vietnam to life for me. I could definitely picture both the beauty of the country as well as the filth of the streets. In fact, I could almost sense the crowds and smell of the city with his vivid descriptions.

Furthermore, I was very impressed with Mr. Shors' ability to tell a story. I enjoyed his writing style and I was captivated with the story and the characters from the very first pages. I could definitely tell that he understood his subject matter and feels very passionately about it. I can't wait to read his other novels BENEATH A MARBLE SKY and BESIDE A BURNING SEA. Even more impressive than his writing is Mr. Shors' dedication to helping children who are less fortunate. He donates some of the funds he receives from sales of DRAGON HOUSE to the Blue Dragon's Children Foundation -- you can read more about his involvement here.

I highly recommend reading DRAGON HOUSE. Not only was it a very interesting story with well developed characters, but it also really make me think. This book touched upon so many thought- provoking subjects like war, victims, love, healing, faith, renewal, and charity. DRAGON HOUSE would make a fantastic book club pick. I think any group would have a wonderful time dissecting each of the characters and how much they evolved throughout the course of the story.

DRAGON HOUSE really is a story that everyone should read because not only did it give me insight into the street children of Vietnam, but it also made me appreciate how fortunate I am and how very much I take for granted. After I finished DRAGON HOUSE, I felt the need to do something to help children who live in these conditions. I think the book speaks for itself when it evokes those kinds of feelings in a reader.

There is a fantastic website devoted to DRAGON HOUSE. In addition, you can check out this video of Mr. Shors explaining a little bit about DRAGON HOUSE as well as reading an excerpt:

Thanks to the author for sending me a copy of this book.

Make sure you come back tomorrow because Mr. Shors will be stopping by with a guest post and a giveaway opportunity for DRAGON HOUSE.


brizmus said...

This book sounds touching and intense. I love it when authors manage to really include culture and history (like you, especially when it involves Asia), and if Shors really did do such a great job, I'm going to have to check it out.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I just read another review of this book (of course I can't remember where) and their reaction was just like yours. It sounds wonderful. I will be back tomorrow...this is one I would love to read!

bermudaonion said...

I love books set in other cultures and books that make me think. This one sounds like a very emotional heart wrenching story. Great review.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I too have read nothing but positive reviews for this book. Looking forward to the giveaway!

S. Krishna said...

This sounds really great! Thanks for the review!

Serena said...

I'll be reviewing this one as well later in the month. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Jenny Girl said...

I read a book with a similiar story, Jantzen's Gift , and it also affected me deeply. It is so sad to think of all those children living in such dire circumstances. The courage that people have to go there and do these good deeds is truly amazing and inspiring. Thanks for the recommendation!

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for the nice review, Julie. I'm delighted that you enjoyed Dragon House, and that its characters connected with you. Vietnam, as I think you can tell, is a country near and dear to my heart, as are all of its street children. And thanks to the everyone else who posted. I appreciate your kind comments. Happy holidays, everyone. - John

Anna said...

I've had my eye on this book for awhile. Glad to see you enjoyed it so much.

Diary of an Eccentric

Jenn's Bookshelves said...

As you know, I too enjoyed this book. Definitely my favorite of 2009!

Toni said...

Fantastic review. I just read another great review of this one. I too want to read the authors other works.

Beth F said...

This book sounds fabulous -- I don't think I've seen a bad review.