Writing: 4/5 Characters: 4/5 Plot: 3.5/5
A somewhat over-detailed but ultimately satisfying story of a young woman coming to an understanding of herself — the person she wants to be and the person she evolved from. Twenty something Audrey Zhou loves her life in New York City: her kind and conscientious NYC born and bred photojournalist boyfriend (Ben) and her job as a salesperson for a trendy NY magazine, but most of all she loves the extreme distance from her home and immigrant parents in Hickory Grove, Illinois. When her father has a potential health problem, Ben insists on accompanying Audrey home to meet her parents for the first time and learn more about her.
I was impressed by the way this book worked out — it really did focus on a single person’s experience, rather than another agenda heavy diatribe about racism in the U.S. Assumptions, biases, and exposed hypocrisies appear in multiple places, and the recognition of what part Audrey finds herself playing in all of that is worth the price of admission. The story did NOT evolve the way I expected it to, and I found I really liked the non-standard, unexpected ending. Some of the more descriptive sections contrasting her Hickory Grove memories and current experiences went on for a little longer than I needed, but I was overall quite happy with the book.
Thank you to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on January 31st, 2023.