If I Had Two Lives

A Novel

If I Had Two Lives follows a young girl from her childhood in a military camp in 1990s Vietnam, where her mother is in hiding as a political dissident, to her adulthood as a lonely and disillusioned immigrant in New York, where she must learn what it means to love and be loved, and to reconfigure home in the aftermath of ruins.

The novel is available in the U.S, UK, and Italy from Europa Editions and Edizioni/Eo on April 9th 2019.

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Audiobook release date: August 27, 2019


Praise for If I Had Two Lives


“Rosewood writes with humility, but without apology. Her talent for balancing elegance and clarity carries the reader with gorgeous description, while rarely indulging in unnecessary explanation. 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 work of radiance. ”Ryan Smernoff, Los Angeles Review of Books

“The novel poignantly conjures the difficulties of reconciling the present with “an ungraspable history.””The New Yorker

“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.”Meg Nola, Foreword STARRED Review

“A deeply philosophical novel. The plot is full of twists and turns: from the first page, you expect one thing; by the end, Rosewood has given something pleasantly different. In this way, the novel is surprisingly playful. If I Had Two Lives marks the exciting debut of a novelist who has much to offer. ”Eric Nguyen, Diacritics

“In this debut novel, Rosewood presents with searing clarity the uncertain and confusing world of a child with no one to guide her....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.”Bridget Thoreson, BookList

“An exploration of both memory and what might have been, that at times can be quite terrifying. If I Had Two Lives is a lyrical, exquisitely written novel that delves into ugliness in the most beautiful way.”Marie Green McKeon, New York Journal of Books

“Piece by piece Rosewood paints how the motherland dies, too—it becomes a graveyard for everything the narrator has ever loved....Perhaps this is where the narrator becomes whole: Her life spans abject deaths; the living barely there, as if her destiny was accepting the permanence of loss. At no point does Rosewood lose sight of the migrant. She is conscious of an exact suffering; the absent contours 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

“The novel is grounded in certain realities, realities of immigration and complex, yet enduring, female friendships, of loss and motherhood. Take a closer look and you’ll find a funhouse of mirrors, intense echoes, shifting parts, and blurred boundaries. It’s the kind of book that carries you through a current of unforgettable images and relationships, while urging you to pause and think.”Caroline Bodian, Columbia Journal

“An author who can evoke powerful emotional responses in her readers seemingly at will, Abbigail Rosewood’s ‘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


“A stunning, totally original tale told by a masterful storyteller. Abbigail Rosewood captures so much nuance and tackles the heaviest topics with a light, magical touch. There is great talent on display here.”Yelena Akhtiorskaya, author of Panic in a Suitcase

“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 The Book of Numbers and Moving Kings

“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 and The Sky Below

“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

“If I had Two Lives is the perfect novel of dislocation; a piercing and almost hallucinatory portrait of what occurs when one abandons one life, by choice, by force, or by circumstance, and is thrust into an unknown landscape. I was especially struck by Rosewood’s insights into the Vietnamese/American splits in our North American psyche, and the way her story so movingly dramatizes these splits, and in the end welds them back together, is absolutely brilliant. With this extraordinary, artfully constructed and beautifully written debut, Abbigail N. 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. Abbigail Rosewood has expanded my worldview through vividly depicted characters that I will long remember. This is a remarkable achievement.”Alan Ziegler, Author of The Swan Song of Vaudeville


“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

“Abbigail's sparely told novel of dislocation, identity, and belonging, both geopolitical and familial, is 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

“If I Had Two Lives is a captivating read and would make an excellent book club selection.”Caitlin Luce Baker, Mercer Island Books

“If I Had Two Lives asks some potent questions. What is the best way to love another being? What defines a family? How do our earliest alliances direct us throughout life? In elegant prose this powerful novel follows the journey of a Vietnamese girl growing to adolescence in a military camp, her solitary immigration to America and her ultimate trip back to Vietnam. Read this debut for unforgettable lessons in kinship.”Nancy Scheemaker, Northshire Books

“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 Books