A young man's struggle with grief over the sudden death of his father is the central conflict in a novel that effortlessly illuminates the depth and strength of the human spirit. Hand Gunther blames himself for the death of his father, Rudy, of a heart attack; condemns his estranged mother, Clare, for returning to the family too late; and resents his sister Vida's eager forgiveness of Clare. As they struggle to keep afloat the family business--a rundown motel and ""Oasis"" of the title--the cold war between mother and son reaches a stalemate when a pair of Iranian refugees, Nur and his five-year-old son, Vuffy, appear on the doorstep, ready to take up a past offer of Rudy's to put the family up for a few days when they reached the US. In no time, Nur is busy repairing the rooms while Vuffy charms Hand out of his depression. The journey of Hand, a likable and intelligent teenager, toward a more adult and compassionate sensibility is realistically rendered by Maguire (Missing Sisters, 1994, etc.), and the resolution that Hand and his non-demonstrative mother reach is satisfying without becoming mawkish. An unusually understated, still-generous depiction of modern family life.