(Spoiler Alert) Luna grew up with her grandmother in Hawaii until the age of thirteen. Afterward, she moved to join her parents and brothers in California, where she continued her education and university studies. Her beloved grandmother gave her a moleskin journal when she decamped to California so that she could log her innermost thoughts. But when Luna mistakenly leaves it in a cafe, it is found by a young architect, Lucien. He can’t help but satisfy his curiosity. Even though he knows it’s a violation of someone’s privacy, he reads the journal. Instantly, he feels a connection to Luna and is lucky enough to meet her later in order to return the diary. Lucien can’t help but fall in love. Luna, on the other hand, is set on exploring the world and, with it, herself. (End of Spoiler Alert)
Under the Shade of the Mango Tree is a marvelous story of two people discovering their emotions and learning to trust each other. I loved how the author structured the story by alternating between Luna’s world and Lucien’s. It meant that I got to know each character intimately, and I felt like I knew them and what made them tick. They both had complex histories with their respective families which made them all the more interesting. It was impossible not to be drawn into their lives, and I wanted to tell Luna immediately that Scott was not the man for her. I couldn’t help but get involved in the story.
The author has a lovely writing style. She definitely made me feel like I was a part of each scene. I think that’s what made this book so enjoyable for me. I could forget my life for a while and live in Luna and Lucien’s world. The story is also full of wonderful descriptions, especially of food and the characters’ inner thoughts. Moreover, I liked how Luna encountered challenges by joining the peace corps, especially when her adventures turn out to be more than she bargained for in Cambodia. I appreciated the ending where things come full circle, leading her back to the shade under the mango tree, a place where she felt her past was still alive, and the spirit of her grandmother remained.
Overall, this was a beautifully written story with a bit of romance, travel, adventure, family relations, and drama. All of this kept me wondering what the characters would be thinking and doing next. The author has a lovely ability to create descriptive and emotional scenes. I’m sure I will not be the only reader to hope there will be more to come from this author.