Bitter in the Mouth

  • by Monique Truong
  • Narrated by Jennifer Ikeda
  • 10 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Growing up in the small town of Boiling Springs, North Carolina, in the 70’s and 80’s, Linda believes that she is profoundly different from everyone else, including the members of her own family. “What I know about you, little girl, would break you in two” are the cruel, mysterious last words that Linda’s grandmother ever says to her. Now in her 30s, Linda looks back at her past when she navigated her way through life with the help of her great-uncle Harper, who loves her and loves to dance, and her best friend Kelly, with whom Linda exchanges almost daily letters. The truth about my family was that we disappointed one another. When I heard the word “disappoint,” I tasted toast, slightly burnt. For as long as she can remember, Linda has experienced a secret sense—she can “taste” words, which have the power to disrupt, dismay, or delight. She falls for names and what they evoke: Canned peaches. Dill. Orange sherbet. Parsnip (to her great regret). But with crushes comes awareness. As with all bodies, Linda’s is a mystery to her, in this and in other ways. Even as Linda makes her way north to Yale and New York City, she still does not know the truth about her past. Then, when a personal tragedy compels Linda to return to Boiling Springs, she gets to know a mother she never knew and uncovers a startling story of a life, a family. Revelation is when God tells us the truth. Confession is when we tell it to him.

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What the Critics Say

“This episodic book has plenty of appeal.” (Booklist)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

"Tasting Words" made this hard to hear!

The author's heroine "tastes" words; this is called synthesia. This made the book terribly annoying to hear. Sentences were broken up with the "taste" of certain words. This, for example, is an excerpt: "She comesapplebutter over herehardboiledegg everyRitzcracker week, but only for a cupmacaroniandcheese of..." and so on. I found this horribly hard to listen to and I don't think the performer could have done much about that. But I also found the reading flat, as if the performer knew that this device was a contrivance many readers couldn't get past. Like me. I stopped listening to it, but since I wanted to know why the book got so many great reviews for the story, I looked online for a synopsis. I saw that in the text of the book, italics are placed to describe the taste the heroine senses for particular foods. However, the words still run together and I don't think I would have liked to read this book anymore that I wanted to hear it.

I think the story itself was a good one, but I couldn't get past the "tasting" of the words.

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- Kate Anderson

Not a linear story line

Is this the new trend in novels? A non-linear story line? Perhaps this book is or has been a critical success but not a commercial one. Haven't seen it in stores.

There is no specific story line, and it you're basically reading an unstructured fictional memoir. However the good news is that you can pick it up and put it down at any time and you haven't lost any plot details.

But on balance I liked it as a good companion to a workout, gardening, household project, etc. Something to listen to.

It's basically about upper middle class angst mixed with a "coming of age" theme. I couldn't relate to most of the issues, even though I have a similar background, and those issues that I did find relevant were dropped as quickly as they came up. That's the character of this listen - pick up a story line here, then drop it, maybe or maybe not pick it up again at a later stage with no info on what happened in between. However this is one of the reasons I read, as it always amazes me to have a window on the vast spectrum of what people take away from situations.

On the plus side: I found the mention of food flavors that the protagonist picks up from specific words to be interesting and not intrusive at all, sometimes hilarious, adding irony to the writing and to the reading, whereas I could see how that aspect of the narration might bother some. I also give high marks to the narration in general.
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- Pamela Harvey "glam"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-16-2010
  • Publisher: Recorded Books