In this coming-of-age novel, a young man embarks on a quest to solve a puzzle about his past.
At the center of Wong’s (Mother, 2009, etc.) story is Greg Lockland—a Californian who has recently lost both parents in a car accident. Before the crash, Greg was happy with his partner, Kate Walken, whom he met when she was a “Brentwood High sophomore” and he was a student at UC Berkeley. But after the tragedy, Greg’s world is not only shattered by the loss of his parents, but also by a discovery he makes when cleaning out their belongings after their deaths: an enigmatic, romantic letter involving his ex-love from China, Lian Wan, and his father, Stephen. Greg is shaken to the core; he is unable to understand how his father and Lian would have connected. Realizing he still has feelings for his ex and failing to suppress how disturbed he is by the letter, Greg decides he must travel to Hong Kong and get to the bottom of the mystifying bond. He wants to reconcile his unfinished past with Lian, even though he knows it may hurt Kate. The novel follows Greg’s process of tracking down Lian and attempting to uncover the story behind the correspondence between her and his father. Throughout his quest, Greg not only locates his former lover, but faces countless shocking and emotional surprises about his family’s and friends’ pasts as well. Wong’s tale supplies plenty of tension, and Greg’s efforts to unearth the truth about the missive remain gripping throughout. Additionally, the book deftly handles several weighty subjects, including the thorny reactions that grief engenders after a loss and the challenges of romantic relationships. Greg’s feelings for Lian and Kate reveal that he is a complex protagonist who also turns out to be flawed, relatable, and likable.
This book provides equal parts tender romance and compelling suspense—a mystery tale that effectively weaves in a touching story about the intricacy of human emotions.