Banyan Moon

Mariner: Houghton Harcourt. Jun. 2023. 336p. ISBN 9780063267107. $28.99. F
DEBUT Thai, who has written for publications as diverse as the Los Angeles Review of Books and Eater, presents a compelling look at three generations of women, from 1960s Vietnam to modern-day Florida. Successful Michigan-based artist Ann Tran has always felt a stronger connection to her grandmother Minh than to her mother, Huong. But when Minh dies and leaves Banyan House, the decaying home where Ann grew up, to Ann and her mother, Ann begins to question her beloved grandmother’s motives, lies, and nastiness to others. The novel’s three viewpoints and constantly changing time periods require some worthwhile concentration. Evocative descriptions of each locale add atmosphere and realism. Scenes of life during the Vietnam War add insight, and cameo appearances by the family’s deceased men are surprisingly moving and provide additional glimpses into the women’s lives. Though flawed and secretive, each woman is endlessly fascinating. Ann’s unexpected pregnancy will unlock many “mysteries,” keeping readers fascinated even if doubtful about her choices.
VERDICT Readers who savor many unexpected twists and a surprising conclusion will be rewarded.
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