The Frangipani Hotel: Stories by Violet Kupersmith

The Frangipani HotelI picked up this book on a whim, and as I casually read the inside cover, I was a bit intrigued. Once I turned to the back and read the author bio, I knew I had to give The Frangipani Hotel a try. The author, Violet Kupersmith, is just in her early 20’s and a recent college graduate.

The Frangipani Hotel is a collection of short stories that are based on traditional Vietnamese folktales, but Kupersmith has reworked them to be both contemporary and relevant. They are all ghost stories, if you will, but not the typical “Boo!” or jump out of your seat variety. Some are eerie, some unsettling, and all are unexpected in their plot and conclusion. They often start out in the mundane world and then some supernatural element is woven into the plot. The Vietnam War and its haunting aftermath also makes an appearance in many of the narratives.

Although united by these common themes, each story is unique and Kupersmith writes comfortably with a diverse cast of characters. My favorite story was entitled “Skin and Bones”. This was about a Vietnamese American teen who is sent with her older sister to stay with their grandmother in Vietnam. Thuy is sent away by her mother in hopes she will lose weight, as Thuy has become addicted to American junk food. However, Thuy soon finds a strange little sandwich shop that she sneaks to when her grandmother and sister nap into the afternoon.

Overall, call me impressed by Violet Kupersmith’s wise-beyond-her-years literary debut. I highly recommend this original, captivating work. Kupersmith is a rising young star, and I look forward to seeing where this gifted writer will go from here.

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