The story begins with Hang, a young Vietnamese woman, who works at a textile factory in a Russian suburb. She receives a telegram to visit her uncle immediately. As she reluctantly makes the thousand-mile trip to Moscow, she recounts her dislike and hatred for her uncle, and her families’ history that has led her to this moment in time. Though this novel would be classified as historical fiction, for Hang it is her coming-of-age story. The present-day plotline takes place mainly on the train as Hang dips back into reveries of her past in Vietnam.