Short Take: The Year She Left Us – Kathryn Ma

This novel about three generations of Chinese-American women in a San Francisco family struggling with issues of adoption and assimilation will strike a chord with fans of Amy Tan and Gish Jen. And if it sounds like well-trodden territory, Jennifer Egan finds it an original take: “Kathryn Ma’s first novel is electrified by the enraged tenderness of its alienated young protagonist. Part mystery, part odyssey, The Year She Left Us heralds the arrival of a fierce, subtle new American voice.”

And the advance reviews all find The Year She Left us striking, with PW’s starred review concluding, “This is a family saga of insight, regret, and pathos, and it is not to be missed.”

Ma’s first novel is a sweeping success…. Ari, age 18, is one of the ‘lost daughters of China’; she’s been brought to America by her single mom, Charlie….Early on, the book hints at a trauma that later becomes visible when Ari’s growing despair manifests itself as self-inflicted violence; her disconnection from herself is horrifying, especially since Ma implies that not all losses can be recovered. Meanwhile, the mistakes that haunt Charlie’s mom and Ari’s grandmother, Gran, are as affecting as those that haunt Ari…”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Ma brings all sorts of relationships-mother-daughter, sister-sister, friend-friend-to vivid life. And she painstakingly conveys that we are never just one thing, and can never be fixed by just one formula.”
Booklist

“A nuanced take on what it means to be Chinese-American….The novel questions the meaning of family, background and belonging….An impassioned, unapologetic look at tough, interesting subjects.”
Kirkus Reviews

The Year She Left Us (9780062273345) by Kathryn Ma. $25.99 hardcover. 5/13/14 on sale.

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