An intriguing collection that focuses on strangers, with several revelatory and enlightening tales.

The Strangers

NINE STORIES BY NINE IMMIGRANT WRITERS BROUGHT TOGETHER BY ONE CONCEPT

A compilation offers nine short stories written by Chinese immigrant authors, loosely linked by a common theme.

In editor Wang Yuan’s (Beijing Women Stories, 2014) collection, each tale revolves around the idea of “strangeness”—landing in a place where you don’t necessarily feel you belong. The stories in the book vary in tone, lyricalness, and original language in which they were written. While Wang Yuan indicates in the book’s foreword that she initially hoped to compile “stories written in English by ethnic Chinese authors,” she ultimately included several pieces that were translated from Chinese to English (but still fit the theme well). Several standouts include “The Bug” by Lily Chu, in which a protagonist contemplates the life of a wood borer bug that is stuck living inside of her headboard; “Vacances à Paris,” by Christina Yao, in which an unfulfilled Chinese-American woman rediscovers her sexuality and desire by having an extramarital affair in France; and “The Golden Venture,” by Yili, in which the author offers an illuminating (and somewhat harrowing) description of what life is like for Chinese immigrants in New York City—and those who are trying to leave China to reach America. In “Venture,” an immigrant who lives in a noisy basement in the Bronx with her husband observes: “People at home always think that America is a paradise. Didn’t we think the same way?” Wang Yuan has done a nice job of choosing stories that fit her theme. Several tales in the volume also tie together other thought-provoking, common concepts, like the struggles that immigrants face in America and Canada; what it was like to live through the Cultural Revolution in China; and the effects that a loveless marriage or extramarital affair can have on an individual. One standout aspect of the book is that the editor includes short conversations with the authors after their stories. These interviews provide an excellent chance to glean insight into the meanings of the pieces, the writers’ backgrounds, and the experiences that informed the works.

An intriguing collection that focuses on strangers, with several revelatory and enlightening tales. 

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9966405-0-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Purple Pegasus Inc.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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