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Ghost Girl, Banana

"From Kowloon and London in 1966, to Hong Kong’s 1997 handover, this stirring page-turner explores identity and belonging as family secrets are unleashed through a mysterious inheritance."

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

Alternating between the lives of a mother and daughter, thirty years apart, Wiz Wharton’s Ghost Girl, Banana is a marvellously engaging debut. Laying bare the challenges of living between cultures, and the entanglement of the past and present, it’s a beautifully-written page-turner that will have fans of family drama fiction in its thrall.

In 1966, the stirring opening scene sees Sook-Yin compelled to leave Kowloon for London. After her father tells her to “Prove you can do better, ah- Yin. Make your family proud of you, and perhaps we will see you again”, she becomes lost in the crowd and yearns for them to “reel her back to safety”, to tell her, “We didn’t mean it. We love you. Come home”. But no one “comes to her rescue”, and Sook-Yin strives to make a new life in London. 

In 1997 we meet Lily, who lost her Mumma, Sook-Yin, at the age of five, and is now somewhat lost in life. Her successful older sister and deceased father barely mentioned Mumma  — “an unspoken agreement that we never look back at the past”. Then, out of the blue, Lily is named as a beneficiary in the will of a Chinese banking magnate. She’ll receive half a million pounds on condition that she goes to Kowloon “with the express purpose of reconnecting with your roots”.

Tender, and written in a freshly readable style, the dual-narrative works like a dream as it shares the parallel stories of two women searching for a sense of belonging, and the cost of belonging. And then comes a stirring finale that sees newfound sisterly bonds form in the wake of the truth and a shared love for their mother, with a new personal era paralleled by the backdrop of the Hong Kong handover.

Joanne Owen

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