Ann and her mother, Huong, have never been close. Ann was always closer to Minh, her grandmother. However, when Ann’s grandmother dies, and she finds out that her boyfriend has been cheating on her, she realises that she has nobody to turn to for help with her grief. She returns to the Banyan House in Florida to mourn and say goodbye to her beloved grandmother.
The Banyan House is an enormous ramshackle old house in which the three women lived. The house is left to Ann and her mother in her grandmother’s will. The Banyan House feels like a character itself and is integral to the story. It is full of memories and secrets.
Ann, Huong, and Minh, all take turns telling a narrative that dips back in time to the past. Minh narrates her story as a ghost ‘haunting’ the Banyan House, watching and listening to her daughter and granddaughter.
The story builds from the three different perspectives revealing how each woman feels toward the other and the secrets which exist between the three. The guilt, love, anger and sadness. Huong feels resentment towards Minh, exasperated by how close her daughter and grandmother still are. Ann’s life is in a transitional stage. Pregnant and not sure if she even wants to return to the father, she misses her grandmother more than ever.
Banyan Moon is all about relationships between the three women; the strength, the fraying, the rebuilding of these relationships. Most especially between a mother and daughter. Thai’s writing style is descriptive and metaphorical adding to what is a brilliant character-driven debut novel.
Reviewed by Neale Lucas
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Thao Thai is the author of Banyan Moon. Her work is published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, WIRED, Elle, Lit Hub, Electric Lit, Catapult, The Sunday Long Read, Cup of Jo, and other publications. She lives in Ohio with her husband and daughter.
Both h’s in her name are silent.