This book focuses on an American family living in the Midwest that is half Chinese and half white, so the thing I love most about this book is the representation. I’m biracial Asian-American and even through this book takes place mostly in the 1950s and 1970s, I related to the racism experienced by the protagonists. The literary world doesn’t contain a lot of Asian-American people and I have never read one that delves this deeply into the unique racist experiences of Asian-Americans and biracial Asian-Americans. The only other book I know that even contains a biracial Asian-American is Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.
Besides that, I found the story itself compelling. In the very first sentence, we are told that one main character is dead, but Celeste Ng keeps the suspense high as she slowly reveals the circumstances around that death.
While Ng unfolds the lives of her characters, she shows us that our past experiences act as filters as we try to interpret that actions of others. She demonstrates how assumptions can fester and destroy our most precious relationships. Then, Ng offers us hope, by giving us the gift of seeing how even a cursory understanding of another person’s perspective can set things right again. This is a well-done novel.