Author: Celeste Ng
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: This book was heartbreakingly real, with some of the most relatable characters I’ve ever encountered.
““Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.” (Source)
I took far too long to read and review this amazing book, so I’m thrilled to share with you a publisher sponsored giveaway (US/Canada only), which I think will be for two of the beautiful, new paperback copies. This was one of those books that was so good, I knew I was going to have a hard time describing it for a review. From the startling first sentences shared in the synopsis, this book had me hooked. Although the Lee’s are a unique family in some ways, shaped by the racism they’ve faced, I would still describe this as the story of a perfectly normal family falling apart in after a devastating tragedy. It felt like something that could happen to any family, making it all the more haunting.
The characters in the Lee family were some of the most believable, relatable characters I’ve read. For the most part, when characters do things that seem like mistakes to me or that aren’t the kindest choice they could have made, I feel like the character is being unbelievably stupid or unreasonably cruel. In this book, the characters’ thoughts and the dialogue seemed too spot on for that. Even when the characters did things that seemed wrong, I understood them. I could see myself thinking the things they thought and making the decisions they made. I could almost hear the conversations taking place. The descriptions were also spectacular. I particularly admired the author’s use of particular metaphors to set the mood for different scenes.
The end of the story didn’t tie things up quite as neatly as I usually prefer, but this book was so beautiful and the ending packed such an emotional punch, I didn’t mind the lack of a neat resolution. I’m currently ruthlessly removing books from my shelves for a move and this is one of the books that’s staying because months after reading it, I still remember how it made me feel. I’m excited to be able to do a giveaway of this book, because it’s one of those ones where I just want to run out and hand everyone one a copy, so be sure to enter below 🙂
I noticed this book at the bookstore lately because of the author’s name … I’m always on the lookout for Asian-authored books. This sounds like an emotional read but I’m curious why things weren’t as tight as they should be.
I really like nice, neat endings, so the slight ambiguity in this ending wasn’t my favorite. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing though and might be a positive for some people. I’d definitely recommend it anyway though. It made me feel a really strong emotion and I loved that 🙂
Priscilla and her Books
Read this a couple months back, and loved it.
It was so good! It definitely lived up to all the positive reviews I read before I picked it up.
Have been wanting to read this one!
I waited a long time to get to it, but I was glad when I did. I hope you enjoy it just as much 🙂
Oh I’m interested in this for sure! That is such a hooking first sentence! With books, I can say I like certain endings, and certain styles, but if it’s well written, even if it’s different, I throw those rules out the window! Nice to meet you <3 <3
Well said! The first sentence really grabbed me too and this was one where even though I’d have liked a slightly less ambiguous ending, it was so good, I loved it anyway.
You made this book sound amazing! I have had it on my to read list for a while. Thanks for the giveaway!
I’d had it on my to-read list for a while too! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did 🙂
Allison @ The Book Wheel
I absolutely loved this book and am so glad that you finally got around to reading it!
Me too! I can’t believe I didn’t get to it sooner!
I will add it to my summer reading list!
Wonderful! I hope you end up loving it too 🙂
Such an enticing review. I’ll have to add it to my summer reading list!
Great! I hope you enjoy it and have some fun summer reading 🙂
Great review. Sounds like a really good book. I entered and shared your giveaway!
Thanks Shann! I appreciate it 🙂
Your review made me want to read this book! I love reading reviews from readers as opposed to journalists because I like a real point of view as opposed to a critique. Nicely done.
Thanks Amy! I appreciate that. I’m glad you enjoyed my review 🙂