|Nomadic SA Chick||
From the winner of the 2009 Iowa Short Fiction Prize—comes the extraordinary, unexpected debut tale of three generations of Chinese-American women in a San Francisco family who must confront their past and carve out a future.
The Kong women are in crisis. A disastrous trip to visit her "home" orphanage in China has plunged eighteen-year-old Ari into a self-destructive spiral. Her adoptive mother, Charlie, a lawyer with a great heart, is desperate to keep her daughter safe. Meanwhile, Charlie must endure the prickly scrutiny of her beautiful, Bryn Mawr educated mother, Gran—who, as the daughter of a cultured Chinese doctor, came to America to survive Mao's Revolution—and her sister, Les, a brilliant judge with a penchant to rule over everyone's lives.
As they cope with Ari's journey of discovery and its aftermath, the Kong women will come face to face with the truths of their lives—four powerful intertwining stories of accomplishment, tenacity, secrets, loneliness, and love. Beautifully illuminating the bonds of family and blood, The Year She Left Us explores the promise and pain of adoption, the price of assimilation and achievement, the debt we owe to others, and what we owe ourselves.
After reading that description I was hooked on this book and knew I had to read it. It sounded so good. What I found in the book was quiet the disappointment. It was a pretty weak story about a young woman, Ari, who is unsure of who she is. She knows she has a mother, aunt, and grandmother that love her. She has friends who can relate to the anxiety she has about being adopted from China; they were as well. She's smart and beautiful, and has a bright future ahead of her, but she's not sure that's what she wants. She travels to China the summer before she is to start her first year of college. Once there she helps her best friend's mother bring Americans with Chinese adopted daughters back to China so they can experience heritage tours to help the young girls understand where they came from. Ari ends up chopping off her pinky finger, just because, and has to go home. She decides she's not going to college and wants to return to China to find herself, but doesn't have the money so she travels to Alaska and hides out there.
This was boring. There is no other word to properly describe this. I was expecting a story that would be about a young woman who was lost and was trying to find herself. Instead it was about a bratty young, privileged woman who is unhappy about everything, not depressed, just a miserable human being who's sole purpose is to act out and be a bitch to those who love her. It was a pathetic and whiny tale when the stories were told from the perspective of Ari. More than anything this was confusing because stories kept getting retold for the perspective of four different woman, but there were rarely any cues or tone changes so you could fully understand who's perspective you were reading from. This was a waste of time.
I give this a 2 out of 5.