Banyan Moon by Thao Thai

Cover of "Banyan Moon" by Thao Thai.
Thao Thai
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Jun 21, 2023

Hello and welcome to the latest edition of New Title Tuesday, where we take a closer look at a new release that's hitting the publishing world this week.

Summer is in full swing, and some of our patrons might be looking for a deeply immersive novel - something that grabs us and transports us to another place and another time. Banyan Moon, a debut novel by Thao Thai, is a sprawling, epic, multi-generational novel that focuses on interweaving mother-daughter relationships through three generations of fierce, independent women that stretch from the modern Florida coast to back, years ago, to the Vietnamese heartland on the brink of war.

The novel begins with Ann Tran, a young artist with a college professor boyfriend, high society connections, and a bright future - which all gets upended with a positive pregnancy test. She retreats to the large yet decaying family home in Florida, where she discovers her grandmother Minh (who she was always closest to) has recently passed away, leaving the residence to Ann and her sometimes-estranged mother, Huong. Ann and Huong circle each other, trying to overcome years of resentment, pain, and miscommunication when they find a hidden secret contained in the manor's attic that spins the narrative off into a new direction and transports the reader to Vietnam and follwes Minh's story as a young woman in the 1960s who had to make certain difficult choices - unknown to the current generations - to find a better home for her family. These revelations will have profound effects on the Tran women and echo their own modern choice.s

Readers of "Pachinko" by Min Jin Lee or "Everything I Never Told You" by Celeste Ng will find much to love here, as Thai's evocative and vivid prose mark the deeply held emotions of all three generations of Tran women. While each character is flawed in her own way, each character also displays the strength, resilience, and inspiration to overcome their difficulties and establish a powerful bond between mother and daughter, no matter which generation is involved. Elle Magazine calls it "...a riveting mother-daughter tale" and Christina Baker Kline, author of "The Exiles," calls it "a celebration of life in all its forms and a joy to read." Tran's debut novel is a delight as well as a surefire book group pick. Place your holds in the catalog and be sure to rate and review this (and any other!) item you've checked out at the library. We hope you enjoy!

Reviewed by Gregg W.
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