Book Review: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

Left: Tom Hines

Ocean Vuong is the author of the novel “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous.”

Olivia Moody, Newspaper Editor

The Book “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” is a true story about the Author, Ocean Vuong’s childhood. This book is written in the format of a letter written by the author addressed to his mother. While not all of the stories about the mother are positive, it becomes apparent that the letter is written out of love and understanding that Vuong’s upbringing was the best that his mother could give him. 

“On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” describes the transition from living in war torn Vietnam to moving to America, where all dreams do not come true. Such as giving manicures to White affluent women and trying to care for the rest of her family, Vuong’s mother struggled to cope with her own internal battles from the war. Vuong retells the significant moments of his childhood as a way to connect to his mother which he was never able to before. Experiencing racism, poverty, love and the opioid epidemic within the city of Hartford, Vuong learns that everyone is going through their own personal battles and if you look close enough one might witness the carnage.  

This is the sort of book that I did not necessarily enjoy reading, but it almost felt necessary. Vuong writes in a way that while the stories reflect his personal experiences, I found myself seeing his fear, sorrow and upbringing within my own life. The themes within this book are heavy, and might cause tears, but you might just discover something about yourself along the way. I do not know if I will ever read this book again, but I will always remember what it taught me.