Books by Nina Vida

Released: Oct. 1, 2006

"Rich with period detail, an elegant, character-driven novel about the clash of cultures that forged the Lone Star spirit. Should be required reading in the contemporary immigration debate."
In a story as vast and action-packed as Texas itself, Vida (The End of Marriage, 2002, etc.) follows four strangers who join forces during the lawless years of early statehood. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2001

"Sympathetic characters vividly detailed, but trapped in action overload."
From veteran Vida (Between Sisters, 1996, etc.), a tale with more twists and turns than Pacific Route One: a scarred man and a woman are brought together by a suicide that looks suspiciously like murder. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1996

A horrific if dizzyingly paced second novel from the author of Goodbye, Saigon (1994), this about a young woman's struggle to deal with the rage and sexual abuse that destroyed her family and indelibly scarred her. When underage Jolene elopes, she takes her sister, nine-year- old Lela, along as well—simply because she wants to save Lela from what Daddy did to her. Daddy is a tyrannical, Scripture-quoting control freak who's been sexually molesting Jolene for years; meanwhile, the girls' mother, Marilee, is a sweet, ineffectual soul who finds refuge in music and religion. When the newly married young couple, with Lela in tow, come back to town, Daddy goes berserk and rams their car as they try to escape. As a result, Lela is badly injured, and social workers, already suspicious of the family, send her to a foster home, a sort of contemporary Dotheboys Hall. But Lela, a sweet child, manages to tell a visiting TV crew the truth about what happened and is taken back home—only to see Daddy himself arrive with a gun and kill the crew and his wife. Escaping with Lela, he heads for a mountain cabin, but the two are spotted at a nearby store by the vacationing Bingham family. Lela is raped by Daddy and nearly dies in the cold as she flees, but the kind and wealthy Binghams find her and adopt her, though sister Jolene also wants custody. Years later, Lela is a successful artist, and life seems good—until a stranger and lover-to-be named Brad hitches up with now drug-addicted Jolene's neglected daughter, Sandy, and reminds Lela of her unresolved past. Heeding conventional wisdom, Lela must deal with that past before she can ride off happily into the sunset. More action than insight as characters reinforce stale clichÇs in a women's genre that is in itself fast becoming a clichÇ. Still, Lela is a strong woman more appealing than most. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 27, 1994

This fast and furious novel by the author of Return From Darkness (1986) chronicles the adventures of Truong Anh, a fast- talking Vietnamese refugee who sets up a phony law firm in Little Saigon, the Vietnamese enclave of Los Angeles. Anh supports herself, her aged mother, her younger sister with four children, and her truant brother on the money she makes advising gamblers in a high-stakes Vietnamese card game. When her latest big spender lands in the hospital after a cocaine overdose, she finds herself out of luck and out of cash. After tracking down his law office, Anh convinces the man's impoverished secretary, Jana Glavan (who has her own family to support), to borrow his Bar number—necessary to transact legal business in LA—and start the fake firm. Interwoven with the action are Anh's memories of her childhood in Vietnam: her favorite brother's death in a bombing; life as a prostitute in her uncle's brothel; the birth of her Amerasian child; the frantic attempt to get out of Vietnam, which culminated in her father's ghastly betrayal of her trust. When Anh and Jana refuse to become involved in gang activity (though technically illegal, the firm's business is legitimate), they pay a heavy price for their integrity and independence. Jana has her own nightmarish past—her husband was murdered, and she was kidnapped by the killer—but Vida never fully delves into it; Jana's character pales next to the larger-than-life Anh. Likewise, Anh's romantic interest, lawyer Sam Knowlton (a Vietnam vet who may have known her in the brothel), is an oblique presence, and his passion for Anh (who certainly deserves a chance at love) is unconvincing. Powerhouse fiction, fueled by an obnoxious yet sympathetic protagonist whose grittiness and determination hold together the frenetic plot. (Author tour) Read full book review >