Reviews

The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father, by Kao Kalia Yang

sophronisba's review against another edition

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5.0

I did not think this was going to be my kind of book, but I fell in love with it. In this memoir, Yang attempts to tell her father's story from many perspectives, including his own. It is elegantly and imaginatively written, and by the end I felt I knew Yang's family nearly as well as my own.

egoenner's review against another edition

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4.0

Beautiful. I found this story a little uneven, the shifts from Kalia's father's story to her story were bumpy sometimes. And, at the same time, there were passages of absolute beauty. Kalia's writing, again, is evocative and touching. The chapter in which her father describes his love for his wife is so beautiful--I won't soon forget it.

steph_ine's review against another edition

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5.0

A beautiful, heartwrenching, human story about the refugee experience in America. A must read in today's political and social climate.

macshibby's review against another edition

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4.0

This book presents an amazing personal history of the author's father, Bee, a Hmong refugee who fled Laos in the years following the Vietnam-adjacent Secret War in Laos. It's poetic, heartbreaking, and hopeful... and probably a whole bunch of other things. It was a pretty quick, satisfying read.

typewriterdeluxe's review against another edition

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5.0

I read and enjoyed Kao Kalia Yang's book [book:The Late Homecomer|20758939], but I think this project is an even better fit for her strengths as a storyteller. Who better to write her song poet father's story than Kao Kalia Yang with her poetic, powerful language and her deep knowledge of him? And who better to read this book aloud than the author on audiobook? (I listened to this book on CD and highly recommend it!)

The stories in this book are full of painful truths-- horrors of war, loneliness caused by separation and death, pain caused by parenting shortcomings and personal disappointment, the struggle to survive in poverty, Minnesota racism, and capitalist abuse of factory workers. The stories in this book are also full of beauty, resilience, growth, and hope. And love. The creation of this book is so obviously a labor of love.

I heard this book described in an interview on MPR as a kind of monument to a seemingly-ordinary man for whom no one has erected a monument and whose history was not widely known.

"'No one wants to read a book about a man like me when you can read books about men like Barack Obama'," Yang remembers him saying. But she persisted. "My stubborn heart wanted to prove him wrong."

Thank you to her stubborn heart.

williamc's review against another edition

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5.0

A brilliant and touching family memoir that serves as an excellent and essential companion to Yang's earlier book, [b:The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir|2541323|The Latehomecomer A Hmong Family Memoir|Kao Kalia Yang|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1354209552s/2541323.jpg|2548852]. Together, the books tell powerful stories of identity, immigration, forced migration, assimilation, racism, and within one family, the complicated and slow process of Americanization that sees each child becoming more Western than the last, with the oldest sister Dawb in a particularly challenging role as the interpreter between her frustrated, powerless parents and the presumptions and expectations of a widely disinterested white America. Many of the stories Yang finds are impactful and delicately presented to capture a range of emotions, but never grasp for effect or charge the reader. I was deeply affected by this book, moreso than its predecessor, but they should be read together, as inseparable as sisters.

radlibrarianmama's review against another edition

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5.0

I'm in love with her writing style. So lyrical and beautiful. I fell in love with her family instantly and didn't want to put the book down.

libkatem's review against another edition

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4.0

Kao Kalia Yang is such a brilliant storyteller - that the story is her, her family's, is ...words fail me. Heartbreaking, frankly. Refugees and newly American citizens, her family story is a powerful one.

I highly, highly recommend this book as a followup to The Latehomecomer.

All are welcome here.

mccarty2j's review against another edition

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5.0

“After his death, all my brothers and sisters and I waited for dreams of Shong. There were none. No figure of a small, muscled man with the wide-legged black Hmong pants and the shirt secured in front with a safety pin. No words of wisdom. No tender goodbyes. In the dark night after his leaving, we talked of hope. We hope that on the other side of life there is a place where justice is not delivered in a courtroom but around the earth of a home.“

jessiefetting's review

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5.0

I've never read a book about Hmong culture before. This one came at the recommendation of one of my professors this past semester and it lived up to her review. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by the author, and although I was sometimes confused because the whole book is in first person but sometimes the author is speaking for herself and sometimes for her father, it was also really outstanding. At times the author/narrator became really emotional and sounded like she was crying, which is something I've never heard in an audiobook before. It really heightened the empathy I felt for her story and her father's story. It was also really interesting to hear about the Hmong community in Minneapolis and the author's experiences in Minneapolis middle and high schools, since some schools were familiar to me.