July 3, 2023

Novels for Summer Reading

sunshine nails
Looking for a couple of good reads this summer - check out these books Sunshine Nails and You Were Always Mine.

Sunshine Nails by Mai Nguyen is about a Vietnamese Canadian family that owns a nail shop in Toronto, and what happens to everyone in the family when a new high-end competitor opens up. 

The story line...
Vietnamese refugees Debbie and Phil Tran have made a good life for themselves in Toronto, operating their family-run salon. But life isn't all sunshine and rainbows when an ultra-glam chain salon opens across the street and their landlord hikes-up their rent to levels they cannot afford. The Tran family is terrified of losing their business-and the community they've built around them. So they enlist daughter Jessica, who recently moved home after a messy breakup and firing. And together with her workaholic brother, Dustin, and immigrant cousin, Thuy, they devise some good old-fashioned sabotage. 

But as the line between right and wrong gets blurred, relationships are tested, and Debbie and Phil must choose: Do they keep their family intact or fight for their salon? 

There is a lot of drama in this page turning debut is written from a personal lens of the author's parents who have been operating a nail salon in Halifax, Nova Scotia, since 1997. The chapters are written from the perspective of the main characters in the Tran family: mother, father, daughter, son, and cousin. The author beautifully showcases this lighthearted story with the diversity of immigrant experiences and the community resilience. Mai seamlessly tackles matters of the heart like family and ambition while illuminating serious issues like everyday instances of micro aggression, the different levels of privilege, and the costs of gentrification. 
you were always mine
You Were Always Mine is the second book I read, written by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza. I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed the first novel, We Are Not Like Them. I love how there are so many emotions and excitement in every page! This moving and provocative novel is about a Black woman who finds an abandoned white baby, sending her on a collision course with her past, her family, and a birth mother who doesn't want to be found. It was quite hard to stop reading as I was constantly curious to know what happens next. I like how the authors tell it like it is and cover topics and issues that aren't spoken about in public. The plot, setting, and the format of this novel with the story and the letters make this book a good read for anytime.

The story line...
Cinnamon Haynes has fought hard for a life she never thought was possible—a good man by her side, a steady job as a career counselor at a local community college, and a cozy house in a quaint little beach town. It may not look like much, but it's more than she ever dreamed of or what her difficult childhood promised. Her life's mantra is to be good, quiet, grateful. Until something shifts and Cinnamon is suddenly haunted by a terrifying question: "Is this all there is?"

Daisy Dunlap has had her own share of problems in her nineteen years on earth. She also has her own big dreams for a life that's barely begun. Her hopes for her future are threatened when she gets unexpectedly pregnant. Desperate, broke, and alone, she hides this development from everyone close to her and then makes a drastic decision with devastating consequences. Daisy isn't the only one with something to hide. 

When Cinnamon finds an abandoned baby in a park and takes the blonde-haired, blue-eyed newborn into her home, the ripple effects of this decision risk exposing the truth about Cinnamon's own past, which she's gone to great pains to portray as idyllic to everyone…even herself. As Cinnamon struggles to contain the stories of her past, navigate the fault lines that erupt in her marriage, and deal with the shocking judgments from friends and strangers alike about why a woman like her has a baby like this, her one goal is to do right by the child she grows more attached to with each passing day. It's the exact same conviction that drives Daisy as she tries to outrun her heartache and reckon with her choices. 

These two women, unlikely friends and kindred spirits must face down their secrets and trauma and unite for the sake of the baby they both love in their own unique way when Daisy's grandparents, who would rather die than see one of their own raised by a Black woman, threaten to take custody. This novel is about race, class, and motherhood. Is being a mother a right, an obligation, or a privilege? Who gets to be a mother? And to whom? And what are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of marriage, friendship, and our dreams?

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