cover image Ghost Girl, Banana

Ghost Girl, Banana

Wiz Wharton. HarperVia, $27.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-323974-6

Wharton’s heartfelt debut centers on a British woman of Hong Kong descent trying to solve the mystery of her mother’s death. In 1997 London, Lily, whose mother died years ago in a car accident, receives a mysterious letter about a half-million–dollar inheritance left to her by a Hong Kong banking magnate named Hei-Fong Lee. In 1966, Lily’s mother, Sook-Yin Chen, is seen as a burden to her family and exiled from Kowloon, Hong Kong, to Britain to become a nurse. However, she fails her qualifying exam and instead finds work as a nanny. She meets Julian Miller, an entrepreneur who coerces her into sex under the pretense of helping her land a better job. When Sook-Yin becomes pregnant, Julian proposes to her, and she accepts for her financial security, but Julian’s gambling and adultery threaten their marriage. Several years later, while visiting her family in Hong Kong, Sook-Yin reconnects with an old flame, Hei-Fong Lee, who leads her on a tumultuous journey of love and self-discovery. The letter in 1997 sends Lily to Kowloon to get answers about the mother she never knew. Despite a few muddled plot points, the pitch-perfect pacing and well-crafted protagonists will keep readers turning the pages. This is a writer to look out for. (Apr.)