Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Year She Left US: A Novel by Kathryn Ma

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

The Kong women are in crisis. A disastrous trip to visit her “home” orphanage in China has plunged eighteen-year-old Ari into a self-destructive spiral. Her adoptive mother, Charlie, a lawyer with a great heart, is desperate to keep her daughter safe. Meanwhile, Charlie must endure the prickly scrutiny of her beautiful, Bryn Mawr–educated mother, Gran—who, as the daughter of a cultured Chinese doctor, came to America to survive Mao’s Revolution—and her sister, Les, a brilliant judge with a penchant for ruling over everyone’s lives.

As they cope with Ari’s journey of discovery and its aftermath, the Kong women will come face-to-face with the truths of their lives—four powerful, intertwining stories of accomplishment, tenacity, secrets, loneliness, and love. Beautifully illuminating the bonds of family and blood, The Year She Left Us explores the promise and pain of adoption, the price of assimilation and achievement, the debt we owe to others, and what we owe to ourselves. Full of pathos and humor, featuring a quartet of unforgettable characters, it marks the debut of an important new voice in American fiction.

my thoughts:

A dark and thought-provoking read that explores international adoption, family dynamics, and the concept of identity.   

The Year She Left Us was a book that I could not put down - I stayed up until four in the morning reading all about the Kong women and their dirty little secrets.  Told in alternating chapters, we get a glimpse into each woman's perspective on the adoption of Ari, the Kong family's personal history, Ari's decision to run away, and so much more.  I absolutely loved  Charlie and her yearning to be a mother and the profound loss she experiences when her one and only child decides to cut her out of her life.  Ari is a cruel young woman who believes she is lost and decides to take out her misguided anger out on her family.  I hated reading about Ari as I found her to be too self-involved and self-destructive.  I honestly could have cared less what happened to her, except that I knew it would have destroyed Charlie.  I  realize that being adopted affected Ari, but she used her adoption into the Kong family as a means of torturing herself and the people around her.  It was rather disturbing how cold hearted and apathetic she could be.  Regardless of my dislike for Ari, I found myself falling deeper and deeper into the story.  I was HOOKED!  Plus, I wanted to find out if Charlie ever smiled again. 

Kathryn Ma has written a terrific debut novel that I would most definitely recommend to fans of character-driven novels - you will LOVE The Year She Left Us.

Here's the TLC Book Tour schedule for:  The Year She Left Us
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!


Ti said...

I read a book about international adoption once and it really depressed me. For that reason, I passed on this one but I do like dirty little secrets when they are not my own ;)

Vintage Reading said...

I'm fascinated by Chinese culture and heritage. Your review has made me want to read this, thanks.

Nadia said...

Ti, I can definitely understand it depressing you - this one was a pretty depressing read as well. But the dirty little secrets were intriguing :)

Vintage Reading, then you will definitely devour this one :)