If I Had Two Lives
This luminous debut novel follows a young woman from her childhood in Vietnam to her life as an immigrant in the United States - and her necessary return to her homeland.
As a child, isolated from the world in a secretive military encampment with her distant mother, she turns for affection to a sympathetic soldier and to the only other girl in the camp, forming two friendships that will shape the rest of her life.
As a young adult in New York, cut off from her native country and haunted by the scars of her youth, she is still in search of a home. She falls in love with a married woman who is the image of her childhood friend, and follows strangers because they remind her of her soldier. When tragedy arises, she must return to Vietnam to confront the memories of her youth - and recover her identity.
An inspiring meditation on love, loss, and the presence of a past that never dies, the novel explores the ancient question: do we value the people in our lives because of who they are, or because of what we need them to be?
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About the Author
Abbigail N. Rosewood was born in Vietnam, where she lived until the age of twelve. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. An excerpt from her first novel won first place in the Writers Workshop of Asheville Literary Fiction Contest. She lives in New York.
Praise for If I Had Two Lives
"With precision and dexterity, Rosewood has woven together a tale of staggering artistry, devastation, compassion, and social awareness...[If I Had Two Lives] is a powerful work of fiction." --Ryan Smernoff, The Los Angeles Review of Books
"The novel poignantly conjures the difficulties of reconciling the present with 'an ungraspable history'." --The New Yorker
"If I Had Two Lives is one of those rare novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself is finished and set back upon the shelf."--Midwest Book Review
"Haunting and harrowing, If I Had Two Lives is told with beautiful perception and detail, offering a unique view of late twentieth-century Vietnam and memories that continue to resonate, even in a new world." --Foreword Reviews (Starred Review)
"An engrossing tale of a Vietnamese woman without a country and the double life of an immigrant who must return to the place she fled to confront her memories." --International Examiner
"In this wise and lyrical debut, Abbigail Rosewood maps journeys through countries and journeys through the psyche in powerful, sensual detail. Every sentence is transporting, in all senses of the word. A gorgeous and resonant novel." --Stacey D'Erasmo, author of Wonderland
"To come to America is to come of age: this is what Abbigail Rosewood reminds us, in prose of an almost ruthless compassion." --Joshua Cohen, author of Witz and The Book of Numbers
"A harrowing, wondrously constructed story of childhood and a brilliant meditation on how life is lived today." --Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story and Little Failure
"A stunning, totally original tale told by a masterful storyteller. Abbigail Rosewood tackles the heaviest topics with a light, magical touch. There is great talent on display here." --Yelena Akhtiorskaya, author of Panic in a Suitcase
"The perfect novel of dislocation. With this extraordinary, artfully constructed and beautifully written debut, Abbigail Rosewood takes her place among the very best of the new wave of Asian-American authors." --James Cañón, author of Tales from the Town of Widows
"A highly evolved, engrossing, and moving novel with vividly depicted characters that I will long remember. This is a remarkable achievement." --Alan Ziegler, author of Short and The Swan Song of Vaudeville
"At no point does Rosewood lose sight of the migrant. She is conscious of an exact suffering; the absent counters in their motion--depicting the remoteness of anyone in transit. Because something is intrinsically lost. And someone is always left behind."--Yasmin Roshanian, BOMB Magazine
"A lyrical, exquisitely written novel that delves into ugliness in the most beautiful way."--New York Journal of Books
"Haunted by her past and uncertain of her future, the young woman must choose a path that will allow her to set her own course in life. A poignant tale of loneliness and love."--Booklist
"If I Had Two Lives is a more than impressive debut novel - handling difficult issues with sensitivity and a beautiful and involving writing style."--TripFiction
Bookseller Praise for If I Had Two Lives
"Cannot stop thinking about the mother and daughter in Rosewood's novel . . . This book is tailor-made for book clubs or anyone in need of stepping into another's shoes, particularly two Vietnamese women."--Sarah Bagby, Watermark
"Achingly beautiful . . . the story of an emotionally unavailable mother and the complexities of friendships among the disenfranchised strike universal notes. I loved this book!"--Kris Kleindiest, Left Bank Books
"It isn't often that you read a book where you are so merged with the main character that it feels like you are actually experiencing her life. Abbigail Rosewood has created a reading experience that is heartbreaking, emotionally challenging, eye opening, insightful and beautiful."--Laura Parsons, Island Bound Bookstore
"Asks some potent questions . . . Read this debut for unforgettable lessons in kinship."--Nancy Sheemaker, Northshire Bookstore