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 the 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.