Lee Lien has worked extremely hard to obtain her PhD in English, but unfortunately cannot find a job in her field. Deciding to move back home, she now has to walk a thin line between her dreams and family responsibilities. Complicating this is the difficult relationship that exists between Lee and her mother, who is a first generation Vietnamese-American, and is very much a traditionalist. With her father deceased, Lee’s mother has become a successful entrepreneur, owning a string of Chinese buffets along with her father. She’s never approved of Lee’s accomplishments, instead focusing her love and attention on Lee’s older brother Sam.Thankfully Lee has her grandfather, or Ong Hai. While he understands the old traditions that drive his daughter, he’s always given Lee the love and support she craves. It is Ong Hai who relates to Lee an intriguing story. In 1965 He owned a cafe in Saigon. One day an American woman walked in and told him she was writing about the war from a female perspective. Ong Hai and “Rose” bond over his shared stories and during their last visit she leaves a gold pin behind but never returns for it. The pin is one of the few heirlooms that make it to America with Ong Hai and his daughter. Lee has always been fascinated with the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. She believes the pin may be the same one that was given to Laura by her fiance Almanzo. Could the mysterious “Rose” that her grandfather met all those years ago actually have been Laura’s daughter, Rose Wilder Lane? Lee is determined to find out and set’s off to solve a literary mystery. What she doesn’t realize is this will also turn into a journey of self discovery. Pioneer Girl is an enjoyable novel which actually reads like a memoir. I was addicted to the Little House books as a child so I was interested in seeing if the author would have anything new to add. She didn’t, but this doesn’t make the book any less interesting. Laura Ingalls Wilder fans should be warned that the main character Lee identifies strongly with Rose and the theory that she was actually behind a majority of the writing of her mother’s stories. Given the tenuous relationship between Lee and her mother, it’s no wonder she’s so empathetic toward Rose. Lee is not the most likeable main character. She comes across as a bit whiny, and she has no problem with things like stealing if it will help in attaining her goal. At the same time however, you can’t help but feel badly for her. I think my favorite character was actually Ong Hai who seemed to be able to remain loyal to his traditions, yet also recognize that times have changed. I didn’t know much about Vietnamese-American culture and traditions, so I found this part of the book absolutely fascinating. Pioneer Girl also doesn’t end all tidy and neat, but I was also okay with this. I think the story and the characters are reflective of real life. If you enjoy a slower paced novel with a little bit of literary mystery, I recommend you try this.