As a Vietnamese girl coming of age in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Bich Nguyen is filled with a rapacious hunger for American identity. In the pre-PC-era Midwest, where the devoutly Christian blond-haired, blue-eyed Jennifers and Tiffanys reign supreme, the barely conscious desire to belong transmutes into a passion for American food.
"Good book, ok narration"
Jobless with a PhD, Lee Lien returns home to her Chicago suburb from grad school, only to find herself contending with issues she's evaded since college. But when her brother disappears, he leaves behind an object from their mother's Vietnam past that stirs up a forgotten childhood dream: a gold-leaf brooch, abandoned by an American reporter in Saigon back in 1965, that might be an heirloom belonging to Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Van and Linny Luong are as baffling to each other as their parents' Vietnamese legacy is to them both. Van, the quintessential overachiever, has applied the same studied diligence to her law career and to her marriage - a beautiful idea that vaporized when Mr. Right walked out. Linny - pretty, fashionable, untethered - is grasping for purpose when her affair with a married man takes a humiliating turn.