A beautiful novel that, once I started, I rushed through. As the father of a mixed race child, like the main character, Katherine, it also made me terrified of the challenges she will face (less now, because the novel takes place in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s; but as a white, heterosexual male, I am also poorly positioned to say with any certainty what obstacles Asian-American women have to overcome).
Like many novels, it seems, Chung doesn’t quite stick the landing. There is a big set up that doesn’t deliver (obviously, Karl his the notebook and we spend something like quarter or more of the book wondering how this will be revealed and what the consequences will be and when it happens, it’s an emotional letdown; I have no problem with that, in theory, but then the meaning of denouement should be that it was a letdown, but this one felt more ‘meh’).
But the writing and the knowledge that the ending must be at least a little sad still made for a beautiful read. And probably a necessary conversation of why it felt sad (a cultural assumption that a woman who has neither a partner nor child must be sad is a trap that I fear I fell into while reading this).