Mark Pomeroy’s absorbing and humane first novel, The Brightwood Stillness … wonderfully portrays the complex Hieu and the “tenderly crafted amalgam” of Vietnam and America that is his house and his life … Nate Davis and Hieu Tran Nguyen are best friends and teachers at a North Portland public high school. Both are the kinds of teachers we all want for our kids: dedicated, fair, and sometimes inspired despite the roughness of the school and of some of the kids … Pomeroy paints a Portland that is a terrific corrective to the currently prevailing twee “Portlandia” image of tattooed baristas and organic greens. He reminds us that Portland is also a town where many families dine on bologna and corn chips. Where urban high schools struggle to serve kids already damaged by their own struggle to survive. And where cheap hotels on Sandy Boulevard house newly arrived immigrants, uncertain what to make of this strange and rainy place. — The Oregonian (Read the full review)
The Brightwood Stillness is a book meant to be read as a precursor to examining your own family, friends, and history. — Portland Tribune, “Catching Up With Three Good Books”
This tale of parallel identity crises is a finely calibrated work of battles both internal and external. In exploring the underlying incidents that lead up to the present difficult crossroads, Pomeroy shows his characters as they peel away layers of self-deception. Long-suppressed memories and festering wrongs add to the complex story … The novel maintains a standard of compassion and careworn dignity.
The Brightwood Stillness is about choices, consequences and collateral damage. Yet even in its unflinching depiction of sorry aftermaths, it suggests a muted optimism and sketches a humble path of duties and reflections that might lead to finding one’s way. This novel is perceptive and humane – I recommend it. — The Bellingham Herald, “First Novel Layered With Themes and Revelations”
I recommend this book to those who love to read literary novels dealing with the Vietnam War. The characters are well-developed and believable … Pomeroy does a good job letting the reader know about the problems that Vietnamese refugees faced when they came to the United States … He has done a lot of research to produce this book, and uses what he found well. — The Veteran (Vietnam Veterans of America)
The Brightwood Stillness is a riveting story.
— The Mountain Times
This debut novel delves into the worlds of two Portland high school teachers whose lives are painfully real and troubling. Using sparse but poignant language and descriptive imagery, Pomeroy explores friendship, family, cultural difference, and Vietnamese identity in the face of accusation and trauma against the familiar backdrop of the Pacific Northwest. — Priscilla Wu, Oregon Humanities
“Even though Pomeroy’s novel directly grapples with the U.S. – Vietnam War, (it) does important work in drawing attention to the underrepresented battleground of education … The most compelling aspects of the novel are the glimpses into the internal realities that complicate the external perceptions.”
A High Country News Editors’ Pick for Best New Fiction