The story of a young French-Vietnamese girl’s exile in France, her anorexia and how she came back to life thanks to a trip to Vietnam.
The story begins in the 1960s, during the Vietnam war, in a bombing raid in a Vietnamese village. Ba is raising her three daughters alone here, and plans to go to Hanoi, the capital, to extricate herself from extreme poverty. But her family’s everyday existence is shattered in 2005 when her daughters leave for the West.
The grandmother stays in Hanoi while her daughter moves to France with her granddaughter who – long after being ripped from her motherland – still carries within her memories of war, famine and bombs. When the child falls ill a few years later, she ends up in hospital and her exhausted body remembers the battles her grandmother waged to survive.
Only a trip back to Vietnam can save her: there she rediscovers the light and human warmth of her childhood, and her Vietnamese roots.
Line Papin is 22 and was born in Hanoi. After studying literature, she now studies history of art in Paris. Her first novel, L’Éveil, published by Stock, won considerable acclaim and rights were sold to several countries. Les os des filles is her third novel.
« Tu avais dix-sept ans alors, à peine, et tu as pris l’avion, seule, pour retourner à Hanoï. Tu vois, j’en ai vingt-trois aujourd’hui, et je retourne, seule, une nouvelle fois, sur les lieux de ton enfance. Tu es revenue et je reviens encore, chaque fois derrière toi. Je reviendrai peut-être toujours te trouver, trouver celle qui naissait, celle qui mourait, celle qui se cherchait, celle qui écrivait, celle qui revenait. Je reviendrai peut-être toujours vers celle qui revenait, vers les différents coffrets d’os, vers les couches de passé qui passent toutes ici. »