After the disappointment that was American Panda, I was not sure whether or not I wanted to read another Asian American book for a while. This one came across to me in an Entertainment Weekly story and I decided, what the hell.
This book follows the story of a young girl as she reckons with the recent suicide of her mother. She travels to Taipei to meet her grandparents and explore her family’s secrets.
I liked this book more than American Panda because at its core, it’s not a story about being Asian-American - though the theme exists - it is a story about loss, grief and depression. The previous book I read - “My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward” - focused almost entirely on depression and psychosis. Yet despite that, I felt like I better understood what it was like to be close to someone suffering from depression.
The magical aspect of this book is something that readers might split over. I personally liked it. The element is refreshing because it throws you as the reader off-balance. The book cunningly expands the universe of possibilities, leaving you wondering where it is going or what is truly happening.
The romance arc with the protagonist’s childhood friend gets tiresome at the end and does not have an at all surprising conclusion, but I figure that it is something necessary to have in a young adult’s book.
In the end, despite these flaws I gave this book five stars because it is a simple story richly and deliciously told. It is stylistically written without being verbose. It is meaty without being gratuitous. It is colorful without being blinding. I felt sad when this book ended but I knew that the story had run its course and it was time to go.Share