Sunday, October 5, 2014

Review: The Reach of the Banyan Tree by Mark W Sasse

Chip Carson intends to marry a young Vietnamese woman named Thuy until a tragic accident lands him in prison, forever altering the outlook of their relationship. As he struggles to cope with their strained love, a mysterious stranger appears, bearing a journal about Chip’s grandfather who parachuted into French Indochina at the end of World War II. As the words of the journal reveal a life that Chip never knew, he begins to understand the depth of love and sacrifice needed in order to have a second chance with Thuy.

Part historical fiction, part contemporary love story, The Reach of the Banyan Tree explores the effects of war, love, culture, and family obligation in twentieth century Vietnam through the eyes of three generations of American men, who each lost their soul in the tangled reach of the banyan tree.
My Rating
My Review
The Reach of the Banyan Tree really is historical fiction at its best. The novel contains everything one could ask for: actual historical and cultural accounts blended with the real life emotions and identities of individual characters. I had read Sasse's work before, and was very impressed, yet The Reach of the Banyan Tree just seemed to raise the bar.
I love novels that are able to transport me into different cultures and countries, and this novel brilliantly describes Vietnam, allowing readers across the world to learn more about the country and the culture. However, there is a fine line between a novel that includes a culture and a novel that sounds too much like a travel guide. Sasse managed to find the perfect blend to this. The Reach of the Banyan Tree is fast-paced and interesting. It offers a real story behind the historical accounts, which makes it all the more enjoyable to read.
The continuing references of the banyan tree added to the interwoven storyline. There were different layers to the novel that all came together in the end. It was a hard-to-put-down read, as I wanted to know what would happen to all of the characters next. Chip and Thuy are both excellent characters, but really, they are just among the many. Nearly all of the characters were incredibly realistic and believable. They each had their own unique personalities and qualities, making the world of the novel much more real.
Unlike many novels of similar genre, it does not focus on only one aspect. It would be all to easy to make this a war novel or a love story. But The Reach of the Banyan Tree incorporated many different elements all into the same story, just like the interwoven plot. There is love, there is war, there is family, there is action and intrigue. It really has a multitude of qualities that make for a thoroughly enjoyable read. 

No comments:

Post a Comment