PositiveThe New York TimesReminiscent of Ferrante, too, are Jin’s protagonist’s larger-than-life talent, drive and perversity. In her intelligence, vulnerability, volatility, desperation, narcissism and self-destructiveness, Su Lan — despite her voicelessness — is as complex a protagonist as any I can recall. She is also portrayed with exquisite irony ... I did wish Jin’s narrative had been better signposted. The oscillating viewpoints (including an early focus on the hospital nurse, who turns out to be less important than this implies) can be disorienting, especially when accompanied by unexplained shifts in time and place ... despite the novel’s structural flaws, Liya’s duel with her mother nonetheless shines.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewThoroughly researched and ambitious in scope, Ko’s book ably depicts the many worlds Deming’s life encompasses...It is impossible not to root for a boy so foundationally unmoored by circumstance ... Yet rather than mine this richly unsettling territory, Ko contrives things such that not all Polly’s actions — including her effective abandonment of Deming — turn out to be her fault. Is hers a cost-free freedom? And why is her penchant for freedom made so much of, if it is without consequence? Where Deming’s story, too, eventually devolves into a conventional narrative of a young person learning to follow his bliss, it’s hard not to see this book as one that takes risks but then hedges its bets ... It is still heartening to see a novel put a human face on migration, and perhaps in future books, this budding novelist’s true promise will be realized. Meanwhile, Lisa Ko has taken the headlines and reminded us that beyond them lie messy, brave, extraordinary, ordinary lives.