I love this piece.
The book is *not* a masterpiece. It has rooms for improvement. Examples? Slow moving. Obvious logistics oversight. Lack of climax.
But somehow the book just hooked me - literally it is a page tuner to me. Can't explain. I just love it....Continua
I like this second novel of the author's better than her first novel "Everything I Never Told You". Last time, we knew that Lydia was dead at the beginning and this time, we know that the Richardsons' house is burnt by Isabelle/Izzy on the 3rd line of the novel. The author sets herself or the readers up at the beginning of the novel and then fills in the blank leading to the outcome of Izzy burning the house. It's like in a detective story that the author needs to disclose all the (necessary) unknowns (including the murderer) leading to the murder.
To me, I don't feel that Izzy had strong enough reasons or emotion to scorch her or her parents' house to the ground. According to the author, the analogy that Mia used to describe Bebe Chow's situation on p.295 (lines 3-10) about "a prairie fire" and "start over" was the "inspiration" for Izzy to burn the house. By chance, Mia reminded Izzy again about it (from the last 4 lines on p.311 to the first 2 lines on p.312) before she and Pearl left Skaker Heights. Izzy remembered this in the 2nd last paragraph on p.323 and decided to burn the house (9th line from the bottom on p.323). On p.324 (lines 4-6), Izzy replayed Mia's message again and finally ignited the fire :-( I'm just not convinced and burning the house, to me at least, doesn't seem to achieve anything except to fulfill the premise at the beginning of the novel --- Izzy burning the house.
Moreover, though I read around pages 225-229 a few times, I am still not sure what has made Mia suddenly decide to keep the baby and renege on her contract with Joseph and Madeline Ryan. Somehow, she just made the decision after she learnt that her brother died in a traffic accident and went back to her parents' house in Pittsburgh. It's kind of out of blue. Is it because Mia's parents and brother (Warren Wright) all didn't approve of her giving away "her baby" or what ?!
On the other hand, I kind of feel that the author just writes what she knows and doesn't pretend to make it deeper or more profound than what it is. Compared to the first novel, I have been more intrigued to read on. I feel a pleasure of reading something quite genuine. And yet this time, the "Chinese representative" is mainly Bebe Chow (as Serena Wong, Lexie Richardson's classmate, doesn't play a really important role in this novel). It's a cliché poor Chinese immigrant seemingly without too much education and skill. These days, there are so many well-educated Chinese immigrants (with PhD's) in US or at least around me. I have to wonder and shout: "Could we have some of those ?" But I did cheer for Bebe when she grabbed her baby and fled to Canton towards the end of the novel :-)
I've noticed a couple trivial things to pick about :-) In the 2nd last sentence of p.259, the lawyer Ed Lim mentioned "Guangdong" which is followed by "Or perhaps you know it as Canton ?". Immediately, I murmured to myself that Canton corresponds to the city "Guangzhou", not really the province Guangdong. But Wikipedia contains a line that "Canton" is etymologically derived from Cantão, the Portuguese transliteration of "Guangdong" and it was sometimes (esp. in the old days ?!) used to refer to the Guangdong province. So, I guess I can't say too loudly that the author is wrong here but I do wonder whether the author was aware of all these nuances.
In this novel, the author has sometimes used some colloquial abbreviations which I don't really enjoy, such as "mags" on p.93 (8th line from the bottom). I had to check for it before I realized that it's just abbreviation for "magazines" (stupid me) !...Continua