Imagine a dystopian America dominated by the Preserving American Culture and Traditions (PACT) act. Particular negative attention is directed at persons of Asian origin so Bird’s Chinese American mother disappears to protect her son. Now 3 years later, he receives a cryptic message and embarks on a quest to find her in a world of surveillance and suspicion. What is remarkable in this topical story is the importance of words and stories, and libraries and librarians. Highly recommended.
This is a relationship book, a favourite topic for me. The story describes the relationship between two families in a Cleveland suburb. The key relationships are between the two mothers and their children. There are secrets and divided loyalties, free-living versus a life bound by rules, with a sub-plot of a custody battle that divides the community. Ms. Ng writes like Anne Tyler: deceptively simple writing that is incredibly perceptive – highly recommended, one of my best reads in 2018.
The first sentence in this book is just three words: “Lydia is dead”. This beginning and much more in this fine book is reminiscent of The Lovely Bones. Lydia is the 16 year-old daughter of a mixed race American-Chinese family in the 1970s. Her unexplained death causes the family to disintegrate from the pain of uncertainty and grief. The back story unfolds effortlessly – issues of race and identity politics, and the secrets from not speaking their minds. This is a very powerful and compelling book; be prepared for some profound sadness at times.