Sometimes I find a good book long after it was published. The buzz around this book might be over since its 2014 debut but it was still worthy of my bookshelf. What I mean is, even though I borrowed it on my kindle, I feel the need to buy it and display it on my bookshelf at home. I don’t like clutter. Sure I love the feel and smell of a real book as much as the next bookworm, but I don’t like holding onto them if I’ll never read them again. My bookshelf at home may be small, but it only holds books that I want to display proudly. My invisible kindle shelf would cover the span of my living room wall (or close to it). Eventually I hope my kids will read them when they become “mature readers.”
This story follows the bumpy life of an interracial middle class family of five in Amercia. The caucasian mother and the asian american father battle their own insecurities throughout the book and project them onto their middle-child Lydia. For mom, Lydia has a vast amount of academic potential. For dad, she is part asian but passes for caucasian and therefore won’t have to face the challenges that he did growing up. Both parents love all three of their kids; however, each is focused on Lydia which causes a lot of issues within the family. When Lydia turns up dead, the family is left wondering how a child who seemed so happy and popular could suddenly be gone forever. Her death is a shadow on the family and its up to them to find their way back from it.
Why did I enjoy such a sad story? I always try to veer away from books and movies that involve harm befalling a child. It was readable for me because her death is addressed in the book right away before we know her character. Then as the story unfolds we go back and forth in time, learning about each person in the story. When you’re inside the minds of each character every situation they face seems so simple and understandable. I found myself wanting to tell characters “that’s not what she meant” or “Lydia thinks this is her fault.” A lot of the stress and struggle in the family stemmed from each person’s perceptions and insecurities. It seemed that open conversation could have prevented a lot of their problems. Ultimately, this book was a good read even with tragedy involved.