We are proud to announce that BookBrowse has won Platinum in the 2024 Modern Library Awards.

Excerpt from Banyan Moon by Thao Thai, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Banyan Moon

A Novel

by Thao Thai

Banyan Moon by Thao Thai X
Banyan Moon by Thao Thai
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2023, 336 pages

    Paperback:
    Jun 4, 2024, 336 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Then she opened her eyes. There was no humming. There was no Ann.

She pushed up from the blanket and began to cough hard. It felt like there were two iron rods in her nose, thrust up behind her eyes. Her throat was on fire. She called her daughter's name.

"Ann! Ann!"

When her feet hit the sand, she slipped a little, and reached out a hand to catch her fall. Her wrist ached. The gulls were so loud, their cries drowning out hers. She scanned the beach, but there was no one. How far could a little girl go? How long had she been sleeping?

"Come out, Ann. Right now. I will spank you!" she said. She'd never hit Ann before, but thought, wildly, that the mention of violence might pull someone closer. As if it ever could.

She looked to the red-tide-scummed ocean. No, Ann wouldn't. Ann was only ever allowed to wade in to her ankles. Hương took a breath and moved close to the water's surface, looking for a break in the waves. She took her shoes off, ready to dive in.

Once more, with despair this time: "Ann! Please."

"What's wrong now?" Minh asked, emerging onto the sand, though her quick eyes took in everything.

"Ann is lost."

"You lost her?" Minh asked. The rephrasing was not lost on Hương.

"We don't have time for this, Mẹ!"

They resumed calling Ann's name, running down to the water to scan the waves, now dark and opaque. The red tide made their throats hoarse. Hương wished she had never suggested they drive to the beach. They should have stayed in the Banyan House, cloaked in that stifling silence, but safe. At least safe.

When Hương thought her heart might combust, when she felt the hot push of tears at the edges of her eyes, when she wanted to dive into the ocean, sweep its floor with her bare hands to find her daughter, she heard a small giggle in the distance. Minh started toward the sound, but Hương was faster. She sprinted to her daughter and hauled her out from behind a thick fan of dune grass. At first, Ann was grinning, but when she saw her mother's face, her smile dropped. Her eyes widened.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" Hương demanded.

"Hương," Minh said warningly.

"Are you stupid, Ann? Scaring me like that?" Hương's voice was deadly and quiet; no longer panicked, but cold, colder than the sea.

Her hand tightened around Ann's arm, like one of those Velcroed bands for taking blood pressure. She didn't realize how hard she was squeezing until Ann cried out.

"That hurts," she said.

"Let go of her," Minh said. She was beside them, extricating Ann. Rubbing her arm, where Hương's grip had left red ladyfinger marks. "Are you okay, con?"

Hương laughed, humorlessly. "Is she okay?"

"Enough," Minh said sharply.

Ann was crying outright now against her grandmother's shoulder. Hiccupping her explanation. She'd seen the hiding place in the dune grass, and it had reminded her of a castle, where you could see everything through the gaps between the fronds, but no one could see you. A secret place. She thought she would play a trick on them. She was just about to hop out. Surprise! she would say.

"I'm sorry, Bà Ngoại," she sobbed. "I didn't mean to be bad."

"I know, con, I know," Minh whispered, her brusque voice softening in the way it only did for Ann. "You did scare us, though. The world isn't a safe place."

Hương breathed deeply, but the red tide got into her lungs, and she choked, pulling Ann's reproachful attention to her. She started toward her daughter, but when she saw Ann flinch, her hand dropped. She felt like crying, too.

"Let's go home," she said instead, turning away from them so they couldn't see her biting her own hand, trying not to weep in front of them. Motherhood was so lonely sometimes.

Excerpted from Banyan Moon by Thao Thai. Copyright © 2023 by Thao Thai. Excerpted by permission of Mariner Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Wild and Distant Seas
    Wild and Distant Seas
    by Tara Karr Roberts
    Tara Karr Roberts is a newspaper columnist who also teaches English and journalism. Wild and Distant...
  • Book Jacket: The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years
    The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years
    by Shubnum Khan
    Shubnum Khan's eloquent and moving debut novel opens in 1932, when a djinn that haunts a house by ...
  • Book Jacket: Transient and Strange
    Transient and Strange
    by Nell Greenfieldboyce
    Throughout her powerful essay collection, Transient and Strange, science reporter Nell ...
  • Book Jacket: Prophet Song
    Prophet Song
    by Paul Lynch
    Paul Lynch's 2023 Booker Prize–winning Prophet Song is a speedboat of a novel that hurtles...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Mockingbird Summer
by Lynda Rutledge
A powerful and emotional coming-of-age novel set in the 1960s by the bestselling author of West with Giraffes.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Leaving
    by Roxana Robinson

    An engrossing exploration of the vows we make to one another and what we owe to others and ourselves.

  • Book Jacket

    Strong Passions
    by Barbara Weisberg

    Shocking revelations of a wife's adultery in 19th New York explode in an incendiary trial exposing the upper-crust and its secrets.

Win This Book
Win The Cleaner

The Cleaner
by Brandi Wells

Rarely has cubicle culture been depicted in such griminess or with such glee."
PW (starred review)

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I Wouldn't T H W A T-F P

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.