Summary

Vietnam and Little House in the Prairie combine in this latest from PEN/Jerard Fund Award winner Nguyen (whose Short Girls was an L Best Book). When Lee Lien returns home with her doctorate but no job, she starts looking for her vanished brother by investigating something he left behind: a gold-leaf brooch reputedly belonging to Laura Ingalls Wilder in turn left behind in 1965 Saigon by an American reporter.


From an award-winning author, a novel about a Vietnamese American family’s ties to The Little House on the Prairie

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. As Lee explores the tenuous facts of this connection, she unearths more than expected—a trail of clues and enticements that lead her from the dusty stacks of library archives to hilarious prairie life reenactments and ultimately to San Francisco, where her findings will transform strangers’ lives as well as her own.

A dazzling literary mystery about the true origins of a time-tested classic, Pioneer Girl is also the deeply moving tale of a second-generation Vietnamese daughter, the parents she struggles to honor, the missing brother she is expected to bring home—even as her discoveries yield dramatic insights that will free her to live her own life to its full potential.