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Reviewed by Paula Tran for Readers' Favorite
This wonderful, touching novel, Once Upon a Mulberry Field by C.L. Hoang, follows the memories and experiences of Roger, a widower now living in a senior community home. Although he is significantly older than most protagonists in the fiction book market, Roger is an active senior despite the looming cancer that is slowly eating away his life. He refuses to be tied down and restricted by his illness and old age. When he receives a letter from an old friend back in USAF, telling him that an old acquaintance from Vietnam is here to see him, Roger is brought back into the world of his flashbacks. His time in Vietnam was filled with conflict, but also filled with love and hope.
The first thing that I noticed and am impressed about is how historically accurate Roger's time in Vietnam was. The author's use of military jargon and vocabulary is incredible. The descriptions of the terrain, military gear, and combat are colourful, adding to the story and the context of the novel. More importantly, the characters all fit into the environment, and no one seems unrealistic or out of place. The author's grasp of what Southern Vietnam was like during the '60s and '70s is strong, and it is obvious that C.L. Hoang spent a long time doing research.
I do think the plot is pretty slow paced at times. This might be deliberate to build development in Roger's character or to familiarize readers with the war, but I think a faster paced story line will have readers anxious to know what will happen next. Otherwise, this was a real page turner!