Thao ThaiKirja-arvosteluja

Teoksen Banyan Moon tekijä

1 Work 279 jäsentä 8 arvostelua


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.½
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gypsysmom | 7 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Apr 9, 2024 |
Really enjoyed reading this debut novel. I look forward to reading more books by Thai.
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DKnight0918 | 7 muuta kirja-arvostelua | 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.½
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sophroniaborgia | 7 muuta kirja-arvostelua | 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.
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MahanaU | 7 muuta kirja-arvostelua | 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.
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beebeereads | 7 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Sep 11, 2023 |
Banyan Moon is a family saga about 3 generations of Vietnamese women. The story alternates between grandmother Minh in Vietnam, her daughter Huong in Florida and granddaughter Ann in Michigan. It begins with Ann Tran receiving a call from her mother informing her that her beloved grandmother, Minh, has passed away. In the years since she’s last seen Minh, Ann has built a seemingly perfect life in Michigan. She lives with her rich and white college professor boyfriend Noah Winthorpe in a lake house and is invited to many elegant parties due to her relationship with him. After she gets a positive result on a pregnancy test Ann feels her life coming apart. Her discomfort with her current life gives her a sense that it was not the life she would have chosen on her own. 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 had. When Minh's will is read 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 address 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 "American War" to a determined young mother immigrating to America in search of a better life for her children. While Huong and Ann go through Minh's belongings in the Banyan House, Ann makes a shocking discovery that sheds light on Minh's long-buried secrets from her life in Vietnam. The secrets affected the upbringing of both Huong and Ann.

This beautiful story spans several decades, from 1960s Vietnam to the swamplands of Florida. It is tinged with sadness and this sadness felt overwhelming in the first couple of chapters. Around chapter three I understood how this story was being told and became fully engaged. While the story has some sadness it is also shows alot of love between these three women. All of them are single moms so there is a shared experience between them. Both Huong and Ann struggled with the family expectation to be something that they were not. This commonality ultimately brought them together. The immigration process is also shown here. It's not just how Minh made it to the U. S. but how Huong handled being a first generation American and how her perceptions affected Ann's upbringing.

Family sagas are one of my favorite type of books and this novel is a wonderful example of that. It is hard to believe that this well written story is a debut novel. Thao Thai gave us a poignant portrait of the Vietnamese experience both in Vietnam and in the U. S.
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Violette62 | 7 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Sep 4, 2023 |
I often find myself drawn to multi-generational family stories. “Banyan Moon” immediately drew me right into the lives of three generations of Vietnamese women – Minh, the grandmother; Huong, the daughter; and Ann, the granddaughter.

The story opens with the death of Minh. Ann, born in the US and living in California, returns to her crumbling childhood home in Florida, a home with an old banyan tree growing at its side. Ann now must reconnect with her estranged mother. Unknown to her mother, Ann’s seemingly perfect life in California is in question after she discovers she is pregnant.

Minh’s narratives are set in Vietnam and follow her life as a teenager during the Vietnam War and follow her as she flees to the US in search of a better life for her children. The love between Minh and Ann was beautiful, and my heart warmed at their interactions.

“Banyan Moon” is an emotional character-driven story. The story is told from alternating perspectives of the three strong-willed women. It runs the gamut of emotions with its tale of losses, regrets, secrets, heartbreak, and, ultimately, love.

The best part of the story for me was how Ann and Huong had to re-examine their past together and realize how much they do love each other.

Thai uses beautiful imagery throughout the book, especially involving the banyan tree.

If you are a fan of Nguyen Phan Que Mai, I recommend you give this book a try.
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BettyTaylor56 | 7 muuta kirja-arvostelua | May 29, 2023 |
Banyan Moon by Thao Thai observes a now common format of rotating chapters voiced by different characters — in this iteration three generations of women from a Vietnamese family. Minh’s story begins in Vietnam during the war and follows her to America with her children, Hu’o’ng and Phuroc. Hu’o’ng’s chapters reflect her struggle to connect with her own daughter Ann, both in the past and present. Ann finds herself back in Florida with her mother after fleeing her current life and trying to decide what comes next for her. Banyan Moon is an excellent multi-generational story focused on women, motherhood, and the complicated relationships that families often find themselves in.
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Hccpsk | 7 muuta kirja-arvostelua | May 20, 2023 |