Dragon House

Dragon House

by John Shors

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101136157
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/01/2009
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
File size: 592 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About 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.

Hometown:

Boulder, Colorado

Date of Birth:

March 4, 1969

Place of Birth:

Des Moines, Iowa

Education:

B.A. in English, Colorado College, 1991

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Dragon House 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this story, the characters were so real and the plot was excellent. After having visited VietNam, I enjoyed Shors' descriptions of various places I visited. This is the third book of John Shors' that I've read and I've enjoyed all of them. I would definately recommend it for a book club.
IsabellaRenae More than 1 year ago
Set in Asia, Dragon House is a story of redemption and healing. The story takes place in modern day Vietnam and tells the story of two Americas, Iris and Noah, who give of themselves by teaching Vietnamese street children in unfavorable areas as a means to heal from their own pain. Iris and Noah ultimately give the children friendship, educations, shelter and love. The process fulfills the dreams of children and breathes new life into Iris and Noah. Dragon House is a story of suffering, sacrifice, courage, friendship and love. It brings the human qualities of us all together and lifts the spirit. This is the second novel I have read by John Shors and he does not disappoint. His novels are delivered at a pace that requires the reader to acknowledge and understand the impact of our actions, thoughts, lives and the world around us. This novel is no different. It is an emotional journey as you connect with Iris and Noah as well as the children they aim to help in a country that offers little to no support. John brings depth and understanding to the story while easily passing the same information to the reader with intrigue and artistry. The characters are well developed and realistic. Iris's story deals with her fathers' ambition and plan to help the children of Vietnam. Though he is unable to complete this task, Iris chooses to see his plan to completion as a way to honor the memory of her father and attempt to heal. Noah, who has seen the results of war, joins her in her task, having seen the trauma of war on a nation that has so little. The book attempts to bring about the timeless struggles of human nature [good &evil;] in a new light. Dragon House was a wonderful novel, thought slow in pace. It challenged me as I read it because I deeply connected with these characters. Shors makes it easy to feel the emotions and pain of the young children but rewards you with the happiness and relief they also feel. I connected with Iris and Noah who both attempt to heal hurt from their past by positively changing the future of others. I wondered if I would be strong enough to give up my job in order to carry out the wishes of my father's life. The novel transforms suffering into joy, hope into reality, and friendship into love and leaves a lasting impression on the reader. Simply put, John's novels command attention while delivering a wonderful story with deep insight and emotional exploration.
jennbookshelf More than 1 year ago
Iris Rhodes, daughter of a Vietnam Vet , made a promise with her father before he died to ensure that the haven he built for the neglected street children of Ho Chi Minh City to be completed. This children's center was built using his own sweat and tears as a means to relieving some of the grief he felt as a result of the war. She abandons her job as a book reviewer for a local newspaper to travel to Vietnam to help fulfill her father's dying wish. Iris takes with her Noah Woods, a friend from her youth. Noah is a severely wounded Iraqi war veteran. He lost more than just his leg in the war. He is full of anger and resentment, but the children of Ho Chi Minh City force him to see past his own anger and work to create a better life for these children. Iris and Noah have a hard road ahead of them. Not everyone approves of the center, which will ultimately school the young girls of Ho Chi Minh City. They are forced to pay off a local authority so they can receive protection from the local scum who benefit from the hard work of the local street children. My heart couldn't help but break when I read of the street children. There are three that are focused on: Mai, Minh, and Tam. Mai and Minh live in a basket under a bridge. Minh has only one hand and earns money by playing games of Connect Four with tourists. Minh doesn't speak, so his sister, Mai, acts as his voice. The majority of their earnings goes to a local addict who provides "protection" from the other street dwellers. Ironically, they are severely beaten each time they are unable to provide this money. Tam is a young girl suffering from the final stages of childhood leukemia. Her grandmother, Qui, carries her around on her back, doing the best she can to provide for Tam in her last days. Tam's cancer could have been treatable had she seen a doctor early enough but unfortuntely she did not seek medical attention unti the cancer had spread to her bones. They both look forward to a reality in which there is no pain and in which Tam can run around and play like a "normal" child. Readers of all ages will find a character they can connect with, and Shors writing style is light enough that readers in their teen years could easily follow it. It would be wonderful if this novel could be considered required reading for junior high or high school students. It portrays the vast history of the war with Vietnam and the results of the war on the local people. While it definitely describes the not so cheerful aftermath of war, it also details the hope and resilience of the people. Shors did an outstanding job of developing the characters. The each have some type of obstacle they are trying to overcome, whether it be a physcial disability, emotional, or both. It is obvious that Shors did an extensive amount of research for this novel. The vivid descriptions of the city and the squalor in which the street children lived allow the reader to feel as though they are a part of the setting. I have a completely different outlook on the world after reading this. It's easy to get dragged down by the problems our own nation is experiencing, but after reading this, I learn there are people on the other side of the world suffering more than I could ever imagine. One should not attempt to read this book without a box of tissues handy, for I was crying from the first few pages. But this should not dissuae you from reading this novel; I feel it is a book that everyone should
tokemise More than 1 year ago
Dragon House by John Shors is a wonderful story of healing, redemption and love. I loved this book. It is wonderfully written and touched me personally on many levels and made me cry at least twice. It is my new favorite read for this summer. Dragon House is the story of many people but the main character who starts the story and brings them all together is Iris. Iris is a book reviewer whose father has been largely absent from her life physically and emotionally. A veteran of the Vietnam war he struggled the rest of his life with what happened to him there. Years later he returns to Vietnam trying to do some good by opening a center for street children. He dies before he is able to finish the center and have it open. Iris decides to go to Vietnam and finish her father's work but she doesn't go alone. Noah is a childhood friend of Iris, who is a wounded Iraq war veteran. He has lost one of his legs and all his hope and faith in the world and people. Once a vibrant and active man he can no longer do the things he took for granted and tries to lessen his pain with alcohol and pills. A desperate plea from his mother gets Iris to take him with her to Vietnam. Noah has no hope of finding anything there that will help him but goes to make his mother feel better. Once they are in Vietnam the author's use of description made me feel like I was there too. It is clear in the writing that John Shors knows about the places and culture first hand. I can picture it in my mind and almost hear the sounds and smell the smells. It is here that we meet the rest of the characters in this story. They are unforgettable. Thien is the assistant at the center and she will help the Americans in more ways then they ever imagine. Full of hope, love and joy she teaches them many things by her example. Mai and Minh are street children who must hustle tourists in order to make a living, they live under a bridge and have only each other. They have lived through things most of us can't even imagine. Tam is also a street child but she has her loving Grandmother to care for her. Their story is so poignant it will change you and you will never forget it. All these very different lives are brought together in a story that will pull at your heart strings and make you want to do something good and become a better person. The pace of the writing is perfect and the descriptions made me feel like I was there. I couldn't put this book down, I had to find out what happened to all the characters I had come to love and care about. This book touched me on a very personal level because I have been trying to help children in need for many years. I have read about street children in other countries and have always wished I could do something big, like opening a center or a home for them. I can relate to Iris on that level and also because she loved books and was a book reviewer. She comes to realize the true value of her books during her work at the center. Readers will get a feel for what it must be like for these poor children by reading this book and will hopefully be inspired to do something to help. I know I am. Ultimately this is a book about hope and never giving up. Learning that you can always be better and do good no matter how small a thing you think it is. Mostly I came away from reading this book feeling like it was all about love. It's a wonderful book and I recommend it to everyone.
Casperette More than 1 year ago
Every once in a while a book comes along that is written so well that the words wrap around you and carry you through page by page. This is such a book. Dragon House is a fiction book themed around Vietnam street children. Having worked with street kids in Honduras since 2004, I was amazed to see the likeness between these two areas of the world. John Shors captures the street children' life in his words, words that at times hit so close to home that I could see and smell what he was describing. I was able to get a real sense of Vietnam and feel the hope that comes with a place that works towards a world without children living on the street. Well written, a real page turner. I will definitely be looking for more books from this author.
bridget3420 More than 1 year ago
The children of Vietnam have a place to turn to instead of living on the streets. Two Americans, Iris and Noah, have created a home for these children and have taken it upon themselves to teach this group of under privileged youth. Iris is taken with these children who have also taught her a thing or two. This is an uplifting novel that captivated me. I couldn't help but be drawn in by these characters. John is an amazing writer with endless talent.
ccqdesigns More than 1 year ago
I first encountered John Shors when I read his novel Beneath a Marble Sky. This new novel, Dragon House, has stepped up John's impressive writing skills another notch. Dragon House is a love story; the love of a daughter for her father, a sister for her brother, a grandmother for her granddaughter and soldiers for their country. And it is a story of the courage it takes to follow your heart and protect the ones you love. The Story: After Iris' father dies, she decides to go to Vietnam and complete his dream of opening a center for street children there even though he was absent for most of her life and she is still very angry. He was always trying to run from his demons and she felt from her. Iris' good friend Noah is just home from Iraq and running from demons of his own and agrees to go with Iris. What follows is a painful, slow process of acclimation to a new country, to finding out whom her father really was and if this is really what Iris wants to do. In the process Iris finds Mai and Minh, a brother and sister living under a bridge that are forced to work for an opium addict, Qui and Tam, a grandmother and granddaughter living on the streets and Sahn the beat cop and Vietnam veteran who hates Americans. My Take: John Shors description of Vietnam, of Saigon and its people brought all my senses alive while reading. I could see and touch and smell the market and the city streets. I could hear the traffic noises and all the scooters zipping past. I could feel the touch of Mai as she brushed up against me and asked if I would like to buy a fan. And my heart went out to all the street children and all the empty stomachs and honest people that try every day to help. And I cried in anger at every crooked official and opium addict and street vendor that expected a bribe. And it brought back all the memories. I have been to these countries, I have seen these children, and I have held their hands and bought their fans and laughed with them and prayed for them. And all I can say is that John Shors has written an amazing book that I highly recommend.
thetometraveller on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Iris Rhodes has a neat and ordered life in Chicago, but her father's death changes all of that. Her Dad was a Vietnam veteran who was so tormented by the atrocities he had seen and participated in during the war that he was often absent from Iris' life when she was growing up. His demons caused a rift in their relationship that they tried hard to mend. And he was healing himself, in a way, by working on his project. He wanted to open a center for street children in Vietnam, to help in whatever way he could to heal the country that he had fought in.Unfortunately, he dies before he can get the center up and running. Iris promises him that she will go and finish what he started. She had planned to go alone but ends up taking along her childhood friend, Noah. He is a veteran from a more recent war, Iraq, where he lost a leg. Unable to come to terms with his new situation and the daily pain and anger he feels, it is hoped that Noah will find some way out of his misery while he is in Vietnam.In Vietnam, there are many people who live on the streets and a large percentage of them are children. Mai, a girl, and Minh, a boy with one arm, sell small items to tourists and Minh challenges them to games of Connect Four for one dollar. Minh has a brilliant mind and usually wins but never speaks a word. They scrape small amounts of money together, which is promptly taken from them by Loc, the opium addict who threatens the two young kids into working for him and supplying his cash. They sleep together in a basket under a bridge and are lucky if they can eat once a day.Qui carries her granddaughter on her back every day between their shack and the market where she attempts to sell old books. Her beautiful little granddaughter, Tam, has leukemia and Qui puts every penny she can towards the pain medicine that eases Tam's suffering. It breaks her heart to watch this child in agony, though Tam rarely complains. Qui spent months saving enough money to take Tam to a hospital but by the time she did, it was too late, there was nothing the doctors could do for her.When Iris and Noah reach the center they find Thien, a young Vietnamese woman who served as Mr. Rhodes' assistant, painting and generally getting ready for the opening, which is about a month away. She proves to be an invaluable asset to the center, she knows the city and a surprising number of its people. Her warm and open spirit shines through in her understanding of the Americans hopes and fears.As they set to work, both Noah and Iris have their own issues to overcome. Noah is filled with rage at his loss and the pain he is in, so he doses himself with pain medication and alcohol. He doesn't see any good in the world anymore and is only going through the motions of living. Iris is unsure and tentative, she doesn't speak the language and is intimidated by the noise and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City. But they will both find that the poor Vietnamese people have so much to teach and they experience profound changes within themselves.Of course, it is a matter of opinion, but to me a great novel must have several qualities: it must pull the reader out of themselves, it must grapple with a basic human truth or moral tenet, it must resonate in the reader's own life or teach them something profound. Without these qualities, a book might be good and entertaining, but not be worthy of being called great. With Dragon House, John Shors has fulfilled all of my requirements. This is a GREAT novel, in fact it is the best I have read this year. He has taken a heart-wrenching fact of life and turned it into a moving and exciting fictional tale that serves to highlight the plight of poor children, not only in Vietnam, but around the world. He accomplishes all of this and polishes it with some excellent writing:"Vietnam, a country that had known little but war for many generations, was strangely peaceful, as if the spirits of the slain had somehow infiltrated the prejudices of the living. Hope abounded across
Ziaria on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When I first got this book I have to be honest I did not think it was going to be my kind of read. It is something I don't usually read. Wow was I wrong! I loved this book!It has a slow buildup at the beginning but once it gets going it sucks you right in. I read it in 3 sittings with the majority of it in one sitting. I finished up the last 40 pages this morning and would've finished last night but I couldn't hold my eyes open any longer. In fact I think a nap is calling my name today. It was that good.The characters are well thought and and written down that I could practically visualize what they look like. Iris, trying so hard to complete her dad's dream of building a center for street children in Vietnam. Noah a returning Iraq war vet fighting off some terrible demons. Thien the sweet, full of life worker at the center. Then you have the street children and other Vietnamese people. Qui and her terminally ill grand daughter Tam who just breaks your heart. Mai and Minh two young street children so tough and full of life. Loc the thug who controls them. Sahn the cop who surprises you with his love for the children of Vietnam.The story pulled me in, broke my heart, made me cry and lifted me up all rolled into one. I can't say enough about this book. If you are on the fence go get it. It's really worth it.
GarySeverance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dragon House is a novel about current conditions in Vietnam, the environment and the people of Ho Chi Minh City. In his story about the establishment of a center for disadvantaged children, John Shors gives an interesting description of the former Saigon and some of the surrounding countryside. The city streets are teeming with people, many riding scooters. The machines weave in an out of traffic on broad avenues with 5 star hotels, and move in tightly packed groups in the narrow streets with pre-war buildings and homeless camps. The Mekong River may be polluted, but it is still beautiful and wide with water drifting down from Laos, Cambodia, and China. Lush vegetation and acres of rice paddies surround the river. Also, some of the action takes place to the north of the city in Nha Trang on the tropical coast of the South China Sea. The stories of the characters illustrate that much human degradation and environmental destruction remains after war. It is clear, however, that the human spirit is hard to put in a cage or tie with a rope to a tree. Physical and psychological pain is the aftermath of war and this leads some people to hate and seek self-destruction. Some are more realistic and simply try to survive and do some good for others. A positive message of the novel is that survivors of war can advance from former group to the latter and experience redemption and learn forgiveness. When this happens to the characters, the compound pain does not just disappear. It loses its power to destroy hope and love. Dragon House is written in a simple, straight forward style appropriate for adolescents and adults. The characters range in age from young childhood to older adulthood. The structure of the novel mirrors the history of war; war experiences and their lasting effects dominate the early chapters setting the stage for many of the novel's episodes. The direct effects of war decrease in later chapters, but the reader remains aware of its continual impact. Shors makes the point that the Iraq war is ongoing and dominates the lives of many. As with Vietnam, it will end eventually and release most people from their spiritual prison. I recommend this novel to anyone directly affected by war, especially the Vietnam and Iraq conflicts. It is a very good novel for adolescents and young adults who would like to see the reality of war's aftermath and see the tremendous resilience of people who retain hope and compassion for others. There is a reader's guide section at the end of the novel with an interview of John Shors and study questions for reading clubs and schools. Comment | Permalink
sagustocox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Iris felt as if a unique cultural experience occurred on the back of scooters. She reflected that in America, people drove their cars and rarely even opened their windows. Within cars people tended to be isolated, listening to the radio or maybe talking on the phone to a friend. Cars were people's places of refuge, highly personalized sanctuaries within which Americans often sought escape. Driving a scooter in Vietnam was a completely different experience. In addition to the ease of conversation, the lack of lanes and laws almost mandated that people acted in cooperation. Drivers didn't cut one another off or blast their horns. Though they drove quickly, always looking for the fastest route, if an old woman was trying to cross an impossibly busy street, people braked and weaved around her without a second glance." (Page 184 of ARC)Iris is just one of the main characters in John Shors' Dragon House and she's had a tough childhood with a mostly absent Vietnam veteran father. Noah, her childhood friend and also a veteran but of the Iraq War, accompanies her to Vietnam as Iris strives to fulfill her father's dream. Through a shifting narrative, readers are shown glimpses of what it means to live on the streets of Vietnam as orphan children with Mia and Minh or as a grandmother Qui raising her leukemia-ridden granddaughter Tam by selling books to American tourists. Dragon House examines how these cultures are misunderstood on both sides and how they clash with one another even in times of peace. Shors deftly mixes sadness with hope to reveal the beauty beneath the grime and compassion inherent in humanity."Iris thought about her father, about how he also came home shattered from a war that wasn't of his making. A marriage and a daughter hadn't saved him from his demons. Why would Saigon save Noah? Though Iris was unsure, she knew what her father would say, knew he'd want her to bring Noah." (Page 13 of ARC)Readers will be blown away by the vivid descriptions of Vietnam and the evolution of the novel's main characters as they find themselves in a foreign land and repurpose their lives to meet the needs of others and fulfill a dream. Shors uses description in a way that conveys deep emotional scaring and how that damage is repaired over time. "The city was a kaleidoscope of old versus new, memories versus ideas, stone versus chrome." (Page 15 of ARC) Mia and Minh, who sell fans and gamble with tourists over games of Connect Four, display strength amidst adversity, but like Noah, even the strongest of us have our breaking points. Qui and Tam also display significant strength. In a way these characters offset the deep desolation felt by Noah because they continue to survive and hope, while Noah is steeped in blackness and hopelessness, finding solace in whiskey and pain pills. There is more going on in Dragon House than meets the eye with Iris and Noah preparing a children's center for opening and these children living on the streets. Readers will be absorbed in Shors' world and turn the pages hoping for the best resolution possible.
scofer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dragon House tells the story of two American friends, Iris and Noah, who travel to Vietnam to finish the work that Iris¿s deceased father started to establish a center for street children in Saigon. John Shors¿s writing transports the reader to another world, from vivid descriptions of the gorgeous landscape beyond the walls of Saigon and Hanoi to the heartbreaking depictions of the squalor and cruelty of street life. I could see (and smell) the streets of Saigon as well as the shores of Nha Trang and Halong Bay. Shors also does a good job of developing the characters - from Noah, an Iraq war veteran who is battling back from a debilitating injury and struggling to find himself, to Mai and Mihn, two street children struggling each day to survive in a storyline a bit reminiscent of Slumdog Millionaire. Dragon House also wraps in a love story and a plot filled with intrigue and suspense. I would definitely recommend this book to others. A real page turner.[Reviewed as an advance review copy as part of Book Browse's First Impressions program]
littlebookworm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When Iris¿s father dies, she finds that she wants to continue his legacy by establishing his children¿s center in Vietnam. The center was not completed and Iris decides to abandon her career as newspaper book reviewer and fly to Vietnam to help. She takes her neighbor Noah with her, a man impaired both physically and mentally from his experience in the Iraq War, in the hopes that a purpose will give his life meaning and direction. In Saigon, Iris and Noah are amazed by the kindness and warmth of the Vietnamese and the clever street children, who quickly realize the goals of the center and wish to be enrolled. In this cutthroat world, however, it isn¿t all as easy as it should be, and Iris and Noah find themselves fighting to save the children they come to love.It seems to me that this is a book about hope. Iris hopes to build a center beyond all the others, to truly educate girls and make them into productive and happy citizens. Noah eventually learns to hope again through Thien, who is at peace with the universe. The children all hope to be let into the center, so they have a chance for a brighter future. Everyone is making something better, whether it¿s themselves or society, and the entire book has a bright, cheerful message in the end.While Iris and Noah are admirable people, it is really the street children who make this book the wonderful read it is. There are three children who are really focused on, Minh, Mai, and Tam. Minh and Mai are brother and sister; Minh doesn¿t talk, has only one hand, and plays connect four with tourists to earn money, while Mai acts as his voice and sells fans. They are bright, innovative children and it¿s impossible not to completely fall in love with them and hope that they can seize a brighter future through Iris and Noah. Unfortunately, they have a more powerful man who has them under his thumb and who insists on making things difficult. Tam is a very sick girl who is mostly cared for by her grandmother, and it¿s here that the tragic aspect of the book makes its mark. Tam is suffering from childhood leukemia and 90% of children survive it if they get care early enough. Unfortunately, Tam did not, given that they live on the street, and while her personality is almost completely obscured by her illness, the love between her and her grandmother is so touching, as is the attitude of all the other characters towards them.Saigon itself (as it is called in the book) almost acts as a character; since Minh and Mai are poor they move around quite a lot and allow descriptions of most of the city, as well as the hovels in which they and Tam live. I really enjoyed the descriptions in the book and felt that the author did an admirable job contrasting wealth and poverty and getting across the feel of both the city and the Vietnamese people. The plot is not particularly tight, especially in the beginning, but it doesn¿t seem to matter because I was too busy enjoying the characters and descriptions and hoping for something better to come their way.Dragon House is completely different from John Shors¿s other work, but I really enjoyed my time spent with it. It is both a charming story and inspires us to do something better in the world by exposing the evils he¿s seen. I definitely recommend it.
loisbookfinder on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dragon House was my favorite book of 2009. I loved the writing, the way that the author brought modern-day Vietnam to life. Keep some tissues handy. A triumphant tale, ultimately.
whitreidtan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Iris's father is dying when she promises him that she will continue his work in Vietnam, building and opening a school and home for Vietnamese street children. Noah is the son of old family friends and as a Gulf War vet he is struggling with many demons, including the loss of a limb and alcohol. When his mother begs Iris to let Noah accompany her to Vietnam, Iris is skeptical but knowing that demons nipped at her Vietnam vet father's heels his whole life, she is unable to say no. And so these two very different Americans, searching for very different answers in their lives head off to Vietnam to try and make the much anticipated Center a reality.Once there, the story changes the focus from solely on Iris and Noah, spreading out to include some of the children who will be served by such a center, the young, drug-addicted thug who controls their lives, a grandmother and her terminally ill granddaughter, the police officer who battles his own disability and his deep distrust and anger towards Americans even while he hopes that Iris and Noah are legitimate in their desire to help the scores of homeless orphans living on the streets, and the Center's lovely, upbeat employee who rescues both Iris and Noah in different ways. As the lives of these disparate people weave together, the tapestry of the story gains great depth and meaning.Shors has painted a very realistic, heartbreaking picture of the lives of homeless Vietnamese children. He captures well the conflict involved with Americans trying to help ameliorate the suffering given our past history in the country, never making things too easy for Iris and Noah to be believable. And he treats the culture with respect and love, despite or perhaps because of its imperfections. While the story was in many instances predictable, it was an enjoyable read and shines a light on a plight few of us realize exists. For those who enjoy novels set in foreign countries, those who like to read novels where the main characters grow and change substantially, and those who support the notion that just one small act can make the world a better place, this will be a good and worthwhile read.Make sure to check out the book's website for more information on the homeless children Shors is hoping to help support through Blue Dragon Children's Foundation. Each person donating $100 to this worthy organization will receive an autographed copy of Dragon House. Details are at the book's website.Thanks to author John Shors for providing me with a review copy of this book.
xrayedgrl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I so wanted to love this book. It is set in the country of my birth, Vietnam. While the storyline initially seemed promising, in the end it was banal and boring! The characters lacked depth, the main character took a back seat by the middle of the book as the plot began to drift. I was disapointed because I was looking forward to reading this title and in the end was let down.
taramatchi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another amazingly beautiful book about the power of a person's ability to love, to hope, and to rebuild. Similar to another book I have read by this author, this book was filled with memorable characters that are realistically flawed and only as they learn from each other are they able to rise above their own hurts, own nightmares, and emerge into something amazing.The story follows two very different people who together find the better part of themselves trying to build and open a center for street kids in Vietnam. It is a heartbreaking story that brought tears to my eyes, as well as a joy to my heart.An easy 5 stars to give.
kauaisurfer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dragon House is a story of hope, survival and coming to terms with the past. Set on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, the book follows the lives of street children and some good Samaritans who come to help them.The strongest developed characters in the book are the children. I wanted to adopt them all. Perhaps in connecting with these characters, the author hopes it will inspire others to reach out and help.The story follows a predictable path without many twists and turns. I found it hard to stay with the book because of this. From the start it was obvious where the novel was heading.Even with a predictable plot the book raises questions about war and if the trillions of dollars spent on them would be better served helping the world's poor. Sometimes the author states his point when there is no need to. The lives of the characters speak for themselves and we can draw similar conclusions.I think each reader will come away wanting to help children living in poverty. Perhaps that's the best achievement of all.
aliciamay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was an uplifting tale set in modern day Vietnam. An American women goes to Vietnam to finish the work her Vietnam-vet father started of opening a center for street children. I liked the complex characters that the author brought to this story - the Iraqi war vet who is helping to open the center and trying to get a semblance of his old life back, the conservative Vietnamese police man who is slowly going blind, and especially the man who preyed off the street children even when his mother was a street child and this led to his troubled life. The author showed keen insight into the lives of people who survive war and struggle to live with their scars, both physical and mental. There were a few parts of the book that I found sophomoric, which is why I couldn't give this 5 stars.
mikitchenlady on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book tells the story primarily of Iris, as she goes to Vietnam to complete her father's mission, to build a shelter/school for street children in Vietnam. It includes Noah, a physically and emotionally damaged Iraq war veteran, along ostensibly to help but also to give him some life perspective to pull him out of his descent into despair. It also includes Thien, the ever cheerful and optimistic person in charge of Iris's center. Interspersed with the stories of these three characters are the tales of the street children, and of those who use them for their own selfish interests, or who wish to protect them and see a better Vietnam.I had high hopes for this book, but was disappointed within a few chapters. The characters are all cliche, and the author lacks any subtlety in writing about the realizations they come to and their understandings of their circumstances. In addition, much of the story is telegraphed to the reader, so one can pretty much figure out how it will end, save a few changes in circumstances. You can see who will be saved and who will not, that Noah will come to a better place, that a relationship will grow between him and Thien, that Iris will succeed in her mission. The one saving grace to this book is the stories of the children,and the fact that I learned something about life and circumstances in Vietnam, and perhaps many other Asian and other war-torn countries.
oldman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dragon House is a story of being lost and then finding yourself. Each character of this book is lost somehow in the beginning. Iris, the lost daughter of the man with the dream but died, has a career as a reviewer, but she doesn¿t seem to attach much to it. Noah, the boy who had a ¿crush¿ on Iris but when she rejects him, he joins the Army, goes to Iraq and sees and feels the worst aspects of war. He lives, missing a leg and bereft of any purpose or love in him. Those who live in the street; Mai and Minh; Tam and Qui have nothing to begin and are preyed upon by those even lower. The picture is a vicious, ugly world. Not all are affected by this world, but they seem to work above, through and with the worst of this world. The story slowly unfolds, not all characters survive, but some do and that is what counts.I was slow to connect with this story. What was occurring was in a good girl, bad boy and slow redemption pattern. Half way in I became more interested. This was not a boy-girl story, but different. I work with people who suffer physically, mentally and spiritually from war¿s effects. I began to see felt Noah was one of those. Everyone else in this story also suffered, some rose above the suffering, others did not. This was a survival story ¿ physical, mental and spiritual survival. Everyone survived, in their own way. The author has a message, a good one. One he deeply cares about. I wanted him to give me more of the characters - more of Iris, Noah, Thien. I wanted the plot more developed.The author truly writes from his heart. I wanted more about the characters, more than just thoughts. I wanted more complexity of the life there. I wanted to see the streets of Saigon. Nonetheless, this book gives a small view of a world we never see. I give this book four stars.
kcaroth1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dragon House is a story of those who need to be saved: a woman looking for her place in life, an Iraq vet trying to find his way back to himself, and 3 street children who need safety and a family. They will all come together at a home for street children in Ho Chi Min City. Having spent a couple of years working at a similar center for kids in Asia, I thought the characterization and situation of the children was portrayed pretty accurately. I had more trouble with the quick change in attitude with Noah, the Iraq vet. As horrifying and moving as a trip through a slum in Asia can be, I just didn't believe the quick relationship established with Tam and her grandmother, particularly with a language barrier. And while Noah needed a ray of light that he found with Thien, her almost saintly good humor seemed one dimensional. There were a few times where the flow of the story was bogged down by characters belaboring a point in their thoughts. For the most part, their emotions were evident in their actions; the reader didn't need to have it also spelled out in the characters internal dialog. Despite some of the shortcomings in the writing style, the story did pull me in, particularly with Mai and Mihn, the 2 street children. It's well worth reading to remind ourselves of the lives of millions of kids around the world.
ccqdesigns on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I first encountered John Shors when I read his novel Beneath a Marble Sky. This new novel, Dragon House, has stepped up John¿s impressive writing skills another notch. Dragon House is a love story; the love of a daughter for her father, a sister for her brother, a grandmother for her granddaughter and soldiers for their country. And it is a story of the courage it takes to follow your heart and protect the ones you love. The Story: After Iris¿ father dies, she decides to go to Vietnam and complete his dream of opening a center for street children there even though he was absent for most of her life and she is still very angry. He was always trying to run from his demons and she felt from her. Iris¿ good friend Noah is just home from Iraq and running from demons of his own and agrees to go with Iris. What follows is a painful, slow process of acclimation to a new country, to finding out whom her father really was and if this is really what Iris wants to do. In the process Iris finds Mai and Minh, a brother and sister living under a bridge that are forced to work for an opium addict, Qui and Tam, a grandmother and granddaughter living on the streets and Sahn the beat cop and Vietnam veteran who hates Americans. My Take: John Shors description of Vietnam, of Saigon and its people brought all my senses alive while reading. I could see and touch and smell the market and the city streets. I could hear the traffic noises and all the scooters zipping past. I could feel the touch of Mai as she brushed up against me and asked if I would like to buy a fan. And my heart went out to all the street children and all the empty stomachs and honest people that try every day to help. And I cried in anger at every crooked official and opium addict and street vendor that expected a bribe. And it brought back all the memories. I have been to these countries, I have seen these children, and I have held their hands and bought their fans and laughed with them and prayed for them. And all I can say is that John Shors has written an amazing book that I highly recommend.
ElizChanLest on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dragon House is a simply beautiful novel. The main character is an adult woman to travels to Viet Nam to fulfill her father's dream of opening a home/school for the street children of Viet Nam. Her childhood friend, an Afganistan and Iraq war veteran, joins her on her journey. Along the way they meet a variety of characters. What makes this book truly special is its ability to deal with harsh realities and tragedies of war and poverty, while still maintaining an optimistic tone. It was not what I expected, and I loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago