A tender and funny debut about a Vietnamese Canadian family who will do whatever it takes to keep their no-frills nail salon afloat after a multimillion-dollar chain opens across the street.
Vietnamese refugees Debbie and Phil Tran have made a good life for themselves in Toronto, but their landlord has just jacked up the rent of their family-run nail salon, Sunshine Nails, and it’s way more than they can afford. When Take Ten, a glamorous chain offering a more luxurious salon experience, moves into the neighborhood, the Tran family is terrified of losing their business—and the community they’ve built around them.
But daughter Jessica comes to their rescue. She’s just moved back home after a messy breakup and an even messier firing. Together with her workaholic brother, Dustin, and recently immigrated cousin, Thuy, they devise some good old-fashioned sabotage. But as the line between right and wrong gets blurred, relationships are put to the test, and Debbie and Phil must choose: Do they keep their family intact or fight for their salon?
Full of memorable manicures and even more memorable characters, Sunshine Nails is a humorous and heartfelt novel about family, resilience, and what it means to start over.
About the author
Mai Nguyen is a National Magazine Award–nominated journalist and copywriter who has written for Wired, The Washington Post, The Toronto Star, and several major brands. Raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she now lives in Toronto. Sunshine Nails is her debut novel. Visit her at MaiNguyen.ca.
“An uplifting story about family, acceptance, and moving forward . . . Sunshine Nails is a heartwarming and colourful debut, proving Mai Nguyen to be an exciting new voice in fiction.”
— SONYA LALLI, author of A Holly Jolly Diwali and Jasmine and Jake Rock the Boat
“Lighthearted and funny while also shrewdly addressing complex topics like gentrification and anti-Asian racism. I loved the Tran family and their bright, compelling story.”
— EMILY AUSTIN, author of Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead
“A phenomenal debut . . . This page-turning story about the Tran family’s desperate attempts to keep their nail salon in business will have you rooting for them as often as you shake your head. It’s a delightful romp, with keen social commentary and writing that simply sparkles. Put it on your summer reading list ASAP!”
— CARLEY FORTUNE, New York Times bestselling author of Every Summer After and Meet Me at the Lake
“A whip-smart and hilarious David versus Goliath romp. The Tran family will have you biting your nails as they claw at their competition and each other. Will they survive? Or will they lie forever in the proverbial nail bed that they made? But the Vietnamese diaspora will always find their way back home—even if they lose an eyelash or two along the way.”
— CAROLYN HUYNH, author of The Fortunes of Jaded Women (GMA Book Club pick)
“A compelling exploration of family, identity, and community. Readers everywhere will root for the Tran family as they navigate love and work. Told with a rare blend of humour and insight, this delightful story shows that Mai Nguyen is a writer to watch!”
— SAUMYA DAVE, author of What a Happy Family and Well-Behaved Indian Women
“A fresh, fun take on family dynamics and the secrets we keep to protect each other. Well-defined characters and deft navigation of the highs and lows of the immigrant experience make this book a delightful read. Nguyen’s writing sparkles—I can’t wait to tell everyone about this!”
— SIERRA GODFREY, author of A Very Typical Family
“[O]ne of the treats of summer.”
— Toronto Star
“Filled with heart and humour, Sunshine Nails is an insightful, moving story with striking depth, taking on gentrification, family expectations, and generational differences. You will be rooting for the Tran family through every risk and sacrifice they make to save their salon and, ultimately, themselves. Mai Nguyen has proven herself to be a real standout.”
— TAYLOR JENKINS REID, New York Times bestselling author of Carrie Soto Is Back and Malibu Rising
“Nguyen truly sparkles in this hilarious, poignant, and utterly engrossing comedy of Vietnamese diaspora, gentrification, class, race, and the millennial pressures of finding oneself among overbearing family members. . . . With an abundance of wit, heart, and cleverness, Nguyen explores the complex realities of kinship and belonging faced by Asian immigrants. I loved it.”
— LINDSAY WONG, award-winning author of The Woo-Woo and Tell Me Pleasant Things about Immortality
“The story of the Tran family is full of zany, hilarious fun—but it’s also poignant and told with care. Sunshine Nails made me laugh, cry, and think deeply about culture, family, and the ties that bind. What a witty and engaging debut—I was thoroughly charmed!”
— MARISSA STAPLEY, New York Times bestselling author of Lucky (Reese’s Book Club pick)