My Rating: ∗∗*/5

I received this book in audio format for free for Ford Auto Book club on goodread. It started out with “Lydia is dead.” and made me think, “Oh God, not another missing girl”. We’re full of missing girl lately with Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, etc. But this book caught me off guard because it was not another thriller, but more of about a supposed dysfunctional & stereotypical Asian family. On top of that, it tried to emphasize the interracial relationship and racism against Asian. Being Asian living in America this age, I have to admit I’ve never even felt as if I was being treated as such. I have to often remind myself though, that it was written about the 1960s and 1970s when there were even laws not allowing interracial marriage. It’s just unimaginable to live in such an era. But when I think about the protests against gay marriage these days, I wonder if in 40 years we will look at it the way we look at interracial marriage. Sometimes I feel connected to the Asian characters but sometimes I don’t (probably the Caucasian part).

The book has a very strange feel to it, perhaps from the narrative, perhaps from the prose. I especially did not enjoy the narration by Cassandra Campbell. It felt pretentious as if she tried too hard to pump pathos into the words. I also did not like all the stereotypical situation about how Asians have to do well in school, if it’s not Havard it’s no good kinda thing, given that Celeste Ng went to Havard herself. I’m also disappointed in the way it end and the reason for Lydia’s death, it did not seem to be connected to the story as it was told, I feel that Nathan and Lydia were more typical teenagers rather than someone deeply vulnerable from social issues. The whole book just have this feeling of wanting to be deep and sad but it just comes off as pretentious. Again, I blame the voice of the narration. Perhaps if I just read the book instead of listening to the audible version I would have enjoyed it more.

Photo Credit: Emma Victoria Stokes

Book information:
Winner of ALA Alex Award 2015
Published on June 26, 2014 by Penguin Press
Hardcover, 297 pages
Author: Celeste Ng