CHINA DOLLS by Michelle Yu


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Two debut novelists depict work and romance as experienced by three young Asian-American women.

M.J. Wyn is a sportswriter. Alex Kwan is a lawyer. Lin Cho is a stockbroker. They’re all young, and they all live and work in New York. They have difficulties in their male-dominated professions. They often clash with their tradition-minded, immigrant families. And, of course, they’re unlucky in love. In telling their stories, Yu and Kan never deviate from the conventions of chick lit. Anyone who has ever seen a screwball comedy or read a contemporary romance will realize that M.J. finds her quirky colleague Jagger so very annoying that she has little choice but to fall in love with him, as soon as she gets over the country-club jerk who dumped her in high school. Likewise, Lin seems destined to be with kind, earnest Stephen the moment she thinks of him as “so dorky”—never mind her infatuation with a handsome weasel named Drew. The authors’ respect for convention wouldn’t be a problem if they wrote with the kind of fizz and sparkle that animates the genre’s best. Unfortunately, the prose here is painfully pedestrian. Characters think and say such things as “Talk about a blast from the past” and “Sounds like a plan.” And it’s not just that no one will suspect that the banter between M.J. and Jagger has been lifted from a Howard Hawks film; rather, it’s that it barely registers as banter at all, and the dialogue between the other characters and their men isn’t any better. The issues that these young women have with their Chinese-American families are distinct and interesting—M.J.’s family is unashamedly aghast when she’s pictured on Page Six dancing with a black basketball player, for example—but the authors never explore these matters in any depth.

Less a novel than an exercise in niche marketing.

Pub Date: Feb. 8th, 2007
ISBN: 0-312-36280-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2006


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