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The Year She Left Us: Book summary and reviews of The Year She Left Us by Kathryn Ma

The Year She Left Us

by Kathryn Ma

The Year She Left Us by Kathryn Ma X
The Year She Left Us by Kathryn Ma
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  • Published in USA  May 2014
    336 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

From the winner of the 2009 Iowa Short Fiction Prize - comes the extraordinary, unexpected debut tale of three generations of Chinese-American women in a San Francisco family who must confront their past and carve out a future.

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 to rule 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 ourselves.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. This is a family saga of insight, regret, and pathos, and it is not to be missed." - Publishers Weekly

"Ma brings all sorts of relationships – mother-daughter, sister-sister, friend-friend – to vivid life. And she painstakingly conveys that we are never just one thing, and can never be fixed by just one formula." – Booklist

"An impassioned, unapologetic look at tough, interesting subjects." - Kirkus

"Kathryn Ma's first novel is electrified by the enraged tenderness of its alienated young protagonist. Part mystery, part odyssey, The Year She Left Us heralds the arrival of a fierce, subtle new American voice." - Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit from the Goon Squad

"Full of secrets and obsessed with identity, this story of an adopted Chinese girl comes closer to the complexity of things than any other account I have read. It is moving and well told, and rings perfectly true." - Gish Jen, author of World and Town

"The characters of Kathryn Ma's glittering debut novel are complicated, infuriating and hugely sympathetic. I couldn't wait to find out what they'd do next; I envy readers coming to these pages for the first time." - Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy

"In this provocative tale of a family pulled apart, Kathryn Ma proves herself a powerful storyteller and an astute observer of the complexities of human experience and the perils and possibilities of love." - Karin Evans, author of The Lost Daughters of China and Not Quite Home

"With subtle intelligence and wry humor, Kathryn Ma brings us characters whose lives are complicated-in all the best ways-by family, race, immigration, and quirks of personality. These wonderful stories have the resonance of truth even as they make you see the world in new ways." - Curtis Sittenfeld on All That Work and Still No Boys

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