Dragon House

Dragon House

4.5 30
by John Shors, Stina Nielsen
     
 

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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

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Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Shors's third novel tells an absorbing story weakened by melodrama, sentimentality and exposition. After promising her dying father, a Vietnam War veteran, to take care of his shelter for street children in Ho Chi Minh City, American writer Iris agrees to take along her childhood friend Noah, now a depressed veteran who lost his leg in Iraq. In Vietnam, they find the shelter has drawn an appealing cast of Americans and Vietnamese, all seeking escape and salvation, including two children exploited by a brutal drug addict, and an impoverished old woman whose granddaughter is dying of cancer. Though interesting, most characters never overcome Shors's insistence on telling, rather than showing, their inner lives ("he hurt and hated so much"). Melodrama and mawkish foreshadowing ("I'm taking the risks... and everything's going to be just the way it was meant to be") will prove familiar to anyone who's watched a TV movie. Though frustrating, this is the kind of novel (provocative, polarizing, exotic) that should stir book group discussion.
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Kirkus Reviews
The daughter of a troubled Vietnam veteran fulfills her late father's vow to found a center for homeless children in Saigon. Iris, a Chicago book reviewer, journeys to the metropolis now officially known as Ho Chi Minh City to complete work on the shelter/school/orphanage, set to open in a month. She's accompanied by former neighbor Noah, an Iraq war veteran maimed by an IED in Baghdad. His mother has begged Iris to take Noah along, hoping the trip will wean him from the heavy drinking mixed with painkillers he relies on to blunt his anger at the pointless conflict that cost him a leg. Thien, a young Vietnamese woman employed by the center, intuits that Noah can best heal by focusing on helping others, and there are certainly plenty of street children who need aid. Sahn, a beat cop who has hated Americans since he fought against them during the war, needles Iris for protection money; he knows that once his failing eyesight is discovered, his policing career will be over. Though Sahn is corrupt, he and Iris cooperate to shelter Tam, a seven-year-old suffering from leukemia. In the novel's most riveting sections, an abandoned boy and girl, Minh and Mai, have been enslaved by petty gangster Loc, who cut off Minh's hand to enhance his beggarly appeal. Mai sells fans, and Minh wallops tourists in games of Connect Four; their earnings go directly into Loc's opium pipe. The rescue of Mai and Minh belatedly transforms the book into a thriller, complete with camera-ready scooter chase scenes, as Noah and Thien pursue Loc. Although Shors (Beside a Burning Sea, 2008, etc.) excels at plotting, and his Saigon street cred is impeccable, the characterization is weak. Thien is impossibly angelic, Noah'sredemption feels forced and Iris quickly fades into the background. Fictional characters serve mainly as mouthpieces for an admittedly noble mission (portions of the novel's proceeds will support a Vietnamese children's foundation); nonfiction might have better served the author's purpose.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781440786921
Publisher:
Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date:
05/21/2010

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

John Shors traveled extensively throughout Asia after graduating from Colorado College in 1991, living for several years in Japan, where he taught English, and then trekking across the continent, visiting ten countries and climbing the Himalayas. More recently, Mr. Shors worked as a newspaper reporter in his hometown, Des Moines, Iowa, before entering public relations and moving to Boulder, Colorado. Beneath a Marble Sky is his first novel.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Boulder, Colorado
Date of Birth:
March 4, 1969
Place of Birth:
Des Moines, Iowa
Education:
B.A. in English, Colorado College, 1991
Website:
http://www.beneathamarblesky.com

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