Set in Hong King and Communist China in 1957, Kirstin Chen’s new novel follows the once-weathly Ong family’s quest to flee the Mao state and reunite with their estranged father. Grandmother, daughter-in-law, grandson, and granddaughter all have reasons for wanting to remain on or leave their little island of Drum Wave Islet.
In an attempt to tether the family to the mainland, the local official issues them only three visas, and they are forced to leave their young daughter behind in the care of family friends and a couple servants. What follows is the family’s attempt to find passage for nine-year-old San San, and her struggle to keep her wits about her as she believes her family may have deserted her for good.
Chen aims to explore every character’s conflicts, whether they be with family ties, political ideology, or financial strife. I enjoyed this view into an interesting time in China’s history. I look forward to reading more novels by this talented author.
4 out of 5 stars
Thank you to NetGalley, Little A, and Kirsten Chen for the advanced copy for review.