The Unpassing: Book summary and reviews of The Unpassing by Chia-Chia Lin

The Unpassing

by Chia-Chia Lin

The Unpassing by Chia-Chia Lin X
The Unpassing by Chia-Chia Lin
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  • Published in USA  May 2019
    288 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A searing debut novel that explores community, identity, and the myth of the American dream through an immigrant family in Alaska.

In Chia-Chia Lin's debut novel, The Unpassing, we meet a Taiwanese immigrant family of six struggling to make ends meet on the outskirts of Anchorage, Alaska. The father, hardworking but beaten down, is employed as a plumber and repairman, while the mother, a loving, strong-willed, and unpredictably emotional matriarch, holds the house together. When ten-year-old Gavin contracts meningitis at school, he falls into a deep, nearly fatal coma. He wakes up a week later to learn that his little sister Ruby was infected, too. She did not survive.

Routine takes over for the grieving family: the siblings care for each other as they befriend a neighboring family and explore the woods; distance grows between the parents as they deal with their loss separately. But things spiral when the father, increasingly guilt ridden after Ruby's death, is sued for not properly installing a septic tank, which results in grave harm to a little boy. In the ensuing chaos, what really happened to Ruby finally emerges.

With flowing prose that evokes the terrifying beauty of the Alaskan wilderness, Lin explores the fallout after the loss of a child and the way in which a family is forced to grieve in a place that doesn't yet feel like home. Emotionally raw and subtly suspenseful, The Unpassing is a deeply felt family saga that dismisses the American dream for a harsher, but ultimately more profound, reality.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

" Lin's majestic writing immerses the reader in the bodily experiences of her characters, who writhe, paw, dig, salivate, and draw readers into their world." - Booklist (starred review)

"The unrelenting bleakness of the novel might be too much for some readers, but Lin's talent for vivid, laser-sharp prose - especially when describing Alaska's stark beauty or the family's eccentric temperament - is undeniable." - Publishers Weekly

"The novel is full of harsh beauty, both in its prose and its attentive depictions of an ever shifting Alaskan environment...Unremittingly bleak." - Kirkus Reviews

"In this spare, deeply felt debut novel, Lin resists received wisdom about the American dream to craft a family saga about the difficulty of grieving far from home." - Esquire

"The Unpassing is a breathtaking novel, full of characters as strong and as wild as the Alaskan landscape they inhabit. Sentence after gorgeous sentence, I was pulled into their eerie and beautiful world. Chia-Chia Lin is a remarkable writer." - Yaa Gyasi, author of Homegoing

The information about The Unpassing shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Chia-Chia Lin

Chia-Chia Lin is a graduate of Harvard College and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her stories have appeared in The Paris Review and other journals. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Unpassing is her first novel.

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