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Reviewed by Deborah Lloyd for Readers' Favorite
Lindsey Casselton was cleaning out her mother’s house when she found a photograph that changed her life. Her father had died, and her mother, suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s Disease, lived in a facility. The photograph was dated nine months before Lindsey’s birth – and her mother was with a man she had never known. Across the country, Nathan Huong, of American and Vietnamese heritage, lived with his sometimes-reticent mother, Mai. She would not talk about Nate’s father. Steve Nathan, who reportedly died at the end of the Vietnam war, is the common link between these two main characters. What Really Happened to Steve Nathan, written by Mary Marchese, presents an intriguing story. Discovering what happened to their shared father drives both of them to visit Vietnam. Detailing the effects of the war on its people, the beautiful landscape, and its interesting culture and food are just a few of the highlights of this intriguing mystery novel.
This story engages the reader from the first page to the last. The author is a highly skilled writer as she interweaves the separate paths of Lindsey and Nate who live on opposite sides of the country. She uses the technique of alternating chapters from each one’s journey, and it is always clear to the reader which one is telling his/her story. Adding the family members from Mai’s family in Vietnam brings insight into the complicated lives of the Vietnamese. Like creating a patchwork quilt, author Mary Marchese has joined many aspects of a complex period in America and Vietnam in her unforgettable novel, What Really Happened to Steve Nathan. This book is both informational and emotional – an excellent read!