Another storyline develops as we meet Quach Ngoc Lan, who is Vietnamese. What could a girl who stands by the road at night in 1969 be other than a prostitute? These two characters are destined to meet. When and for how long will the two stories merge — and will they diverge?
We come to know each character by hearing their thoughts and observing their actions as Rabe puts us in the story with poetic prose that creates vivid mental images using brief interactions and short but meaningful conversations. We don't need all the details. We are there. We know what happens next. We know how the story ends. We keep reading to experience the emotions of the characters and learn something of ourselves. A third party character has learned and taught her children that manners require that a decent person conceal news of misfortune whenever possible. Her manners disquiet the reader.
The story challenges my conscience. Could something like this happen to me today? How would I react? Are my morals intact and do I have the strength to act out my spoken convictions? In my heart, I want to be reassured, to have my mind put at ease, even if what is kept from me is very bad.