A book club I am part of picked this book for our next meeting. I was thrilled as it was on my TBR pile. Also, I follow @CelesteNg and love her take on most things related to race and diversity.
I read the blurbs, the front and back cover synopsis and settled myself comfortably with a throw on me. The first chapter reeled me in and kept me hooked until I turned the last page around midnight. The one word that kept repeating in my head as I went to bed was powerful.
The book is powerful in many ways. On the surface it is about teen suicide. On the surface it is about standing out in a world that demands integration. On the surface it is about a dysfunctional family bound by fragile threads of which their daughter is the center. But that is not all.
The characters have lived in my head for a day now. Lydia, Nath, Hannah, Marilyn, James. They are now placeholders for the many things in my life. Perhaps I related to the book so much because I am Asian too. Perhaps it is because our family stands out as transracial. Maybe. Maybe not.
The book is as much about aspirations and pressures to live up to another person’s dreams as much as it is about assimilation and wanting to be like others. Most of all the book is about being othered and othering.
Specially in the times in which we live now, where words like diversity are bandied about as appeasement, this book takes a family, rips them apart and lays their heart and soul on a platter. It is raw, gripping and definitely a book that will haunt you for days.
Read it if you are a person of color. Read it especially if you are not.
A powerful, powerful debut.