• House of Sticks

  • By: Ly Tran
  • Narrated by: Ly Tran
  • Length: 11 hrs and 16 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (108 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York City Book Awards Hornblower Award Winner

One of Vogue and NPR’s Best Books of the Year

This beautifully written “masterclass in memoir” (Elle) recounts a young girls journey from war-torn Vietnam to Queens, New York, “showcas[ing] the tremendous power we have to alter the fates of others, step into their lives and shift the odds in favor of greater opportunity” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis).

Ly Tran is just a toddler in 1993 when she and her family immigrate from a small town along the Mekong river in Vietnam to a two-bedroom railroad apartment in Queens. Ly’s father, a former lieutenant in the South Vietnamese army, spent nearly a decade as a POW, and their resettlement is made possible through a humanitarian program run by the US government. Soon after they arrive, Ly joins her parents and three older brothers sewing ties and cummerbunds piece-meal on their living room floor to make ends meet.

As they navigate this new landscape, Ly finds herself torn between two worlds. She knows she must honor her parents’ Buddhist faith and contribute to the family livelihood, working long hours at home and eventually as a manicurist alongside her mother at a nail salon in Brooklyn that her parents take over. But at school, Ly feels the mounting pressure to blend in.

A growing inability to see the blackboard presents new challenges, especially when her father forbids her from getting glasses, calling her diagnosis of poor vision a government conspiracy. His frightening temper and paranoia leave a mark on Ly’s sense of self. Who is she outside of everything her family expects of her?

An “unsentimental yet deeply moving examination of filial bond, displacement, war trauma, and poverty” (NPR), House of Sticks is a timely and powerful portrait of one girl’s coming-of-age and struggle to find her voice amid clashing cultural expectations.

©2021 Ly Tran. All rights reserved. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What listeners say about House of Sticks

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A story that will change how you view your own life

Michelle Puleio recommended this book to put on my reading list. Never did I think it would make such an impact on my own life. Beautifully written and sometimes hard to listen to Ly Trans words made me see life through her eyes.

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  • Mh
  • 06-04-21

Loved it!

Ly's memoir narration was captivating and such vividly told. This is my first time finishing an audiobook within just a few days- that's how amazingly written it is. I highly recommend House of Sticks to those that need inspiration. Ly not only overcame tremendous hurdles, but defied the odds with her strength and resilience. Looking forward to future works from Ms. Tran.

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I Almost Feel Like Crying

Ly's story is extremely relatable, from the content about mental health to struggles with the school system.

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Fantastic

Such an amazing, well written and well narrated story. Loved it! Highly recommended this audiobook.

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Amazing immigrant story will evoke many emotions

I really enjoy listening to various immigrant memoirs. I'm Chinese and my dad came to the US at age 11. He was mire fortunate than the Tran family. This tale is sad, anger provoking, but ultimately joyful. I always find it interesting how Asian culture with the strong emphasis on filial piety can be so unhealthy and dysfunctional. So much superstition also exists. So much burden is placed on children to help the family that normal childhood doesn't exist. The abject poverty was sad to listen to. I didn't think sweatshop work still existed in the 1990s, albeit in their own home. It was discouraging to hear how the parents continued with the stereotypical work in nail salons and barely scraped by. It was maddening to repeatedly hear the father's ridiculous excuse not to get glasses for Ly, which truly did amount to child neglect and even abuse. Her inability to see correctly mapped out a difficult childhood and I do blame the parents for that. I happen to be a psychologist and although the dad surely had PTSD that does not EXCUSE the way he treated his wife and kids. No wonder she was extremely depressed! I'm glad she had wonderful mentors and advocates who helped her rise above and out of that situation.

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So worth it❣️

This book has touch me so deeply, thank you Ly Tran for never giving up on yourself or this life that is truly a blessing. I can relate to so much of your story, though our lives took different paths, yet we have come full circle to where we were able to shine as we needed to. Keep up this awesome life!

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Love

I loved this book. It was heartwarming and eye-opening. Really enjoyed that the author was the reader.

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Great memoir with layers of challenges

I enjoyed reading the trials and tribulations from an emigrants perspective. Resettling in another country where your first language isn’t spoken must be difficult. I appreciated And can relate to, Ly’s depression and internal conflict of loving her dad (and understanding his poor choices) balanced with self care and tending to her needs. I enjoyed how she shared female oppression woven throughout, and from Asian perspective; as well as conflict seeing her mom as a victim and wanting to protect her (and understanding how her mom became that way) yet frustrated her mom doesn’t stand up for herself. Many layers, and an informative and thought-provoking read!