“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.
So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.”
Authors like Ng and Ozeki both frequently explore characters who are close to my heart: mixed race females growing up in rural small-town North America (p.s. this was me). So I find myself drawn to their novels in personal curiosity. But of course, the Lee family has much in common with every family in their, at times seemingly futile, struggle to know and understand each other. It’s been described as a thriller, but I wouldn’t go that far. We begin with some expected tropes – a missing girl, a bad boy from school, but through beautiful prose, Ng crafts nuanced characters facing terrible tragedy. It’s a story about family, racism, prejudice, belonging and acceptance, growing up, love, reconciling the past and living up to expectations.