RaveNew York Times Book ReviewIn strikingly visual prose, he describes hunting, fishing and roaming the grassy prairies, developing an appreciation for the richly hued land ... As I often tell my students, a good memoir allows readers to find moments of common ground with the author. Having grown up in North Dakota, I related to Brorby’s reverence for the underappreciated beauty of our home state and cackled with knowing delight at his description of Medora ... A great memoir, however, renders moments wholly outside of the reader’s experience in ways that evoke emotion and understanding. I tensed with fear at Brorby’s recollections of harassment and beatings, felt the still-unhealed wound of his being outed by his aunt and effectively estranged from his parents, and teared up with hope when he came out to his beloved grandfathers ... Brorby has written not only a truly great memoir, but also a frighteningly relevant one that speaks to the many battles we still have left to fight.
PositiveThe Washington Post... delves deeper than your typical missing person’s mystery. It’s also a book about a woman trying to understand who she is on her own and where she belongs in the world ... Where Edge Case shines brightest is its depiction of characters who live in a liminal state, never certain where home will be or where they truly belong ... doesn’t lack for interesting characters and complications, which Chin spreads generously throughout the novel. Among those that could have been explored in slightly more depth: Edwina’s eating disorders and propensity to self-harm; her relationship with her hypercritical mother; and her tendency to minimize her experiences as a legal immigrant on a work visa, always comparing how lucky she is compared to families that are being separated, held in detention centers and subjected to ICE raids. Chin, however, ultimately rewards her readers by revealing why Marlin chose to leave. The result is a touching, introspective story about identity, belonging and the effects of long-term transience on both the heart and soul.
Willa C Richards
RaveLos Angeles Review of Books[A] provocative debut ... Her novel is absolutely thrilling. But it’s a slow unspooling that demands patience ... Richards’s debut is so much bigger and smarter than simply just \'the Dahmer novel\' ... The Comfort of Monsters is an intense and artful examination of the relationships between sex, power, violence, and identity, as well as the deeply subjective nature of human memory. It’s a bravura performance by Richards that should demand readers’ attention.
PositiveThe Washington PostCha’s background as a former travel and culture editor for CNN in Seoul serves her well as she vibrantly brings the city and country to life. And her excellent depiction of how difficult it is for young South Koreans to get ahead will likely resonate with American millennials and members of Gen-Z for whom home ownership, professional advancement, and a debt-free adulthood seems elusive, especially now. There are, however, a few instances when the novel attempts to incorporate one too many familiar Korean headlines (K-pop obsession, the country’s low birth rate); and some plotlines feel a bit underwhelming once finally realized. Thankfully, these are minor exceptions in an otherwise powerful and provocative rendering of contemporary South Korean society, one that might be considered bleak if not for the women themselves, who occasionally surprise with their compassion and bravery.
Therese Anne Fowler
MixedThe Washington Post... shares some surface-level similarities with controversial books written by white authors about people of color, addressing subjects that disproportionately affect and traumatize people of color. These similarities include a sizable advance, the use of a sensitivity reader and a robust promotional effort by the publisher ... Execution, however, does matter. And what Fowler has executed is a book in which the black characters are thoughtfully rendered and essential to the story being told. Valerie and Xavier’s perspectives enrich and complicate a larger narrative about prejudice and how it can infiltrate even the most neighborly and seemingly open-minded of communities ... Despite these strengths, though, the pacing in the first two-thirds of the novel, sometimes idles amid a high volume of backstory and flashbacks ... Whatever the motivation or goal, the effort occasionally feels overdone. It also strings out the novel’s tension and prompts the need to manufacture intrigue in artificial ways.
PositiveLos Angeles Review of Books...engrossing ... The alternating structure allows readers to witness how the Lee sisters frequently saw the best in each other but thought the worst of themselves ... One might assume that resentments would exist between these sisters, but Kwok renders their relationship with genuine tenderness, gently revealing their human fallibility ... The beauty and tragedy of Searching for Sylvie Lee is in how much these sisters love each other because of — or in spite of — their upbringing. Another notable strength of the novel is how deeply it delves into the mindset of immigrants who never quite belong anywhere they live ... Kwok’s novel is at its best and most engaging when exploring the Lee sisters’ relationships with themselves and each other, the effects of immigration on entire generations of families, and the weight that the adult children of immigrants often feel ... While the thriller aspects of Searching for Sylvie Lee are somewhat uneven, readers interested in the family drama are sure to be drawn in by Kwok’s undeniable gift for creating memorable, intimate portraits of characters.
RaveThe Washington PostWhile the courtroom scenes and plot pyrotechnics are sure to delight readers of legal thrillers and mysteries, at its heart, Miracle Creek is a deeply moving story about parents and the lengths they will go for their children. Several characters reflect on the challenges of caring for special-needs children with remarkable, occasionally brutal, honesty ... Some may find the novel’s conclusion overly reliant on memories and secrets jarred loose at just the right time. But more likely, readers will be riveted by the book’s genre-bending structure and superb pace ... a stunning debut.