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Banyan Moon

por Thao Thai

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
284894,229 (3.63)5
Fiction. Literature. HTML:

A TODAY Show #ReadWithJenna Book Club Pick

"A riveting mother-daughter tale." ?? Elle

"A celebration of life in all its forms and a joy to read." ?? Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Exiles

A sweeping, evocative debut novel following three generations of Vietnamese American women reeling from the death of their matriarch, revealing the family's inherited burdens, buried secrets, and unlikely love stories.

When Ann Tran gets the call that her fiercely beloved grandmother, Minh, has passed away, her life is already at a crossroads. In the years since she's last seen Minh, Ann has built a seemingly perfect life??a beautiful lake house, a charming professor boyfriend, and invites to elegant parties that bubble over with champagne and good taste??but it all crumbles with one positive pregnancy test. With both her relationship and carefully planned future now in question, Ann returns home to Florida to face her estranged mother, Huơng.

Back in Florida, Huơng is simultaneously mourning her mother and resenting her for having the relationship with Ann that she never did. Then Ann and Huơng learn that Minh has left them both the Banyan House, the crumbling old manor that was Ann's childhood home, in all its strange, Gothic glory. Under the same roof for the first time in years, mother and daughter must face the simmering questions of their past and their uncertain futures, while trying to rebuild their relationship without the one person who's always held them together.

Running parallel to this is Minh's story, as she goes from a lovestruck teenager living in the shadow of the Vietnam War to a determined young mother immigrating to America in search of a better life for her children. And when Ann makes a shocking discovery in the Banyan House's attic, long-buried secrets come to light as it becomes clear how decisions Minh made in her youth affected the rest of her life??and beyond.

Spanning decades and continents, from 1960s Vietnam to the wild swamplands of the Florida coast, Banyan Moon is a stunning and deeply moving story of mothers and daughters, the things we inherit, and the lives we choose to make out of t… (mais)

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The Vietnam War had such a profound effect on my generation, even though I lived (and live) in Canada, that I am always eager to read books about people who lived through that experience. Here the grandmother, Ming, and the mother, Huong, were born in Vietnam and experienced the harshness of the war. And the flashbacks to their life in Vietnam were what I felt was the most powerful parts of the book. Unfortunately, the flashbacks were few and far between.

Granddaughter Ann was born in the USA but her grandmother told her folktales from Vietnam that colour her American experience. Ann was closer to her grandmother than her mother and as a grown up she has moved far away from both of them. They still live in Florida but Ann is living in Michigan with her professor fiance. Ann works as an illustrator but she also seems to be subservient to her fiance. When she discovers he has had an affair and then shortly after she learns her grandmother has died, Ann flees to Florida to help with the funerary rites. She also discovers she is pregnant, an unexpected but not unwelcome event. The grandmother's ghost is hanging around the family home, the Banyan House, trying to mend the relationship between Huong and Ann. The house is cluttered and falling apart but Ann, who was left the house jointly with her mother in her grandmother's will, is trying to decide if she will continue to live there. And she is trying to decide if her high school friend,/boyfriend would be better father material than the actual father of her baby. As she gets bigger and bigger with her pregnancy her ability to make decisions, about anything, becomes more difficult. On the other hand, her mother is becoming more of a support than she ever was in Ann's childhood so that helps. There's a dramatic scene at the end which brings matters to a head but, of course, I'm not going to spoil the book by telling you about that.

The three women are all somewhat abandoned by the men in their lives and have to raise their children without a father's support. Grandmother Minh did marry a good man in Vietnam but he died at a young age. The other two really didn't make great choices for mates. So, all three of these women have had to be strong and resourceful but that may have had a continuing effect on how they choose men. I think this reinforces the fact that children do best with both genders involved in their raising. ( )
  gypsysmom | Apr 9, 2024 |
Really enjoyed reading this debut novel. I look forward to reading more books by Thai. ( )
  DKnight0918 | Dec 23, 2023 |
Newly pregnant Ann Tran is dissatisfied with being the odd woman out in her boyfriend's family of white upperclass intellectuals. When she discovers that her beloved grandmother, Vietnamese immigrant Minh, has died, she leaves her boyfriend and returns to her childhood home, a large rambling house in a Florida swamp. There she tries to work through her grief, her uncertainty about her pregnancy, and a tentative reconciliation with her single mother, Huong.

I was drawn to this book by the exploration of Vietnamese characters and its descriptions of Florida's natural landscape, and both were very well done. Minh's story of how she made a life for herself in Vietnam, and how she made a life for them in the United States after they immigrated, was interesting and well-written. Ann's story, which takes up the majority of the book, was somewhat less compelling and was slow at times. I liked that Ann was rationally able to confront the less pleasant aspects of her grandmother's character and accept both her positive and negative effects on her life. Her indecision about her life with Noah, her boyfriend, did get a bit repetitive after a while. I also wished for more details about the house, but I'm a devotee of reading about real estate so that may just be my thing.

Overall I enjoyed the story -- up until a plot twist out of left field in the last part of the book upended everything and sent the plot into unrealistically melodramatic territory. This was a quiet book about people facing believable problems, it just wasn't realistic for this to have happened, especially since it seemed to have no negative effect on anyone involved whatsoever. The author is talented, and I hope in her next book she resists the impulse to insert unnecessary drama like that. ( )
1 vote sophroniaborgia | Dec 12, 2023 |
This was overall a good book. It was pretty slow in parts, some of the phrasing was cliche and overly dramatic in descriptions. It was interesting enough, however, that I wanted to finish and find out the ways the past intertwined with the relationships. The character development was great. ( )
  MahanaU | Nov 21, 2023 |
Slowly unwinding tale of three generations of women holding three generations of secrets. The setting in Florida swampland is described in rich detail and Thao Thai places her female characters in a house filled with memories and artifacts that wrap around their lives like the roots of a Banyan tree. There are many questions as the story unravels and enough answers to satisfy the reader. ( )
  beebeereads | Sep 11, 2023 |
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Fiction. Literature. HTML:

A TODAY Show #ReadWithJenna Book Club Pick

"A riveting mother-daughter tale." ?? Elle

"A celebration of life in all its forms and a joy to read." ?? Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Exiles

A sweeping, evocative debut novel following three generations of Vietnamese American women reeling from the death of their matriarch, revealing the family's inherited burdens, buried secrets, and unlikely love stories.

When Ann Tran gets the call that her fiercely beloved grandmother, Minh, has passed away, her life is already at a crossroads. In the years since she's last seen Minh, Ann has built a seemingly perfect life??a beautiful lake house, a charming professor boyfriend, and invites to elegant parties that bubble over with champagne and good taste??but it all crumbles with one positive pregnancy test. With both her relationship and carefully planned future now in question, Ann returns home to Florida to face her estranged mother, Huơng.

Back in Florida, Huơng is simultaneously mourning her mother and resenting her for having the relationship with Ann that she never did. Then Ann and Huơng learn that Minh has left them both the Banyan House, the crumbling old manor that was Ann's childhood home, in all its strange, Gothic glory. Under the same roof for the first time in years, mother and daughter must face the simmering questions of their past and their uncertain futures, while trying to rebuild their relationship without the one person who's always held them together.

Running parallel to this is Minh's story, as she goes from a lovestruck teenager living in the shadow of the Vietnam War to a determined young mother immigrating to America in search of a better life for her children. And when Ann makes a shocking discovery in the Banyan House's attic, long-buried secrets come to light as it becomes clear how decisions Minh made in her youth affected the rest of her life??and beyond.

Spanning decades and continents, from 1960s Vietnam to the wild swamplands of the Florida coast, Banyan Moon is a stunning and deeply moving story of mothers and daughters, the things we inherit, and the lives we choose to make out of t

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