Chin’s specificity and wonderfully drawn minor characters add depth and richness to a story that another writer might have washed out with the glaring light of moral clarity ... What emerges is not only a subtly provocative depiction of the tech industry, and this country, as tilting ever more off-kilter; but also a realistic portrayal of a woman in crisis. Edwina’s problems are of the kind that can’t be solved through faulty logic or convenient substitution, but of course we humans, not yet the best versions of ourselves, will try the faulty logic and convenient substitution anyway.
Edwina’s wry outlook on her adopted country and her fellow expatriates is one of the novel’s chief delights ... Outwardly dull and ever watchful, Edwina is that irresistible protagonist, the overlooked woman on whom nothing is lost ... There is, however, no spiritual, let alone criminal, mystery here, although Edwina’s quest and the novel’s periodic flashbacks do create a satisfying atmosphere of suspense. What interests Ms. Chin—and what she so skillfully dramatizes—is rather the eternal conundrum of being a human among other humans and, more specifically, of being an immigrant at the mercy of a volatile host ... At such introspective moments—and there are many of them—Edge Case itself might have floundered and Edwina’s musings dissolved into inspirational cliché. But Ms. Chin for the most part steers clear of such hazards, wisely allowing her heroine’s simple story to remain simple, even as she expertly directs the shifting currents of emotion and of memory that sweep us along in this affecting novel.
... an excellent book that tackles a number of topics — misogyny, racism, love and estrangement — and does so beautifully ... A lesser novelist might get tripped up. But Chin doesn't; she succeeds, and makes it look easy. Much of that is due to her expert portrayal of Edwina, a fully formed character who can't seem to catch a break. Chin allows Edwina to persevere when she can and despair when she must; the moments when she's overwhelmed are genuinely heartbreaking ... Chin proves masterful at examining family dynamics. Edwina's relationship with her mother is a fraught one, but Chin doesn't fall into the trap of casting the mother as a nagging busybody; she comes across as a real person dealing with grief of her own. Edwina's marriage to Marlin is similarly realistic; Chin portrays the couple's dissolving relationship in a (sadly) believable way ... Chin does a wonderful job exploring the social issues at play as Edwina and Marlin navigate life as would-be immigrants in Trump's America ... That the situations are all realistic is what makes them horrifying; Chin asks her readers to reflect on their own complicity in the environment that makes these kinds of things par for the course for women and people of color ... a wonderful novel, smart but not showy, emotional but not sentimental. It asks us to examine a broken society that most of us have helped create, either by our actions or our apathy, and to consider what we'd do when someone we loved has changed irrevocably. It would be a massive understatement to call Chin a writer to watch; she's fully formed, beyond talented, and — crucially — an author of deep compassion.
... one of the first great novels to examine the grinding effect of U.S. anti-immigration policies during the Trump administration ... Chin is superb at describing the tumult of a woman being psychologically knocked about like a pachinko ball. Every chapter bears witness to Edwina’s pain, befuddlement and sheer exhaustion, while also revealing her snarky sense of humor, resourcefulness, tenaciousness and capacity for love. Edge Case shows what can happen to ordinary people when they’re caught up in systems beyond their control.
Chin’s non-love story moves back and forth in time, interspersing Edwina’s desperate day-by-day search with her (occasionally unreliable) backstory as half a couple. To that dual time line, Chin clumsily appends a distracting frame in which Edwina addresses a (not-quite) therapist as 'you.' Even an abundance of Very Important Issues—body-shaming, women in tech, profiling, inter- and intra-racial prejudices, immigration inequity, and animal welfare—ultimately can’t save Chin’s narrative from disappointment.
... 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.
... engaging ... Author Chin is at her best when describing the immigrant experience, the layers of belonging, the complexity of diasporic communities. In contrast, the love story at the center of the novel — Edwina’s crumbling marriage to Marlin — is thinner and less compelling. Marlin is already gone when the book begins, and the flashbacks do not adequately flesh him out. Edwina’s own internal struggles about what she wants in life are more vividly drawn than her longings for the ghostlike Marlin. Her struggle over loving or leaving America feels much more visceral and central to her future ... Throughout the novel, Chin makes excellent use of tech and engineering terms as metaphors ... In the end, Edwina’s objections are disregarded, the issues she raised declared 'edge cases that are outside of the scope' of the first release. In other words, she herself — and her perspective as an Asian female immigrant—is an edge case. But her voice from the edge — perceptive, funny, introspective, smart, wry, calling to us from the margins — is one worth listening to.
Chin’s novel is littered with genuinely funny moments; Edwina’s voice is a chatty, engaging one that belies her depth ... The novel also presents a layered view of racism ... An endearingly offbeat story with particularly timely themes.
Chin makes an impressive debut with this sharp take on faltering romance, the American dream, and self-realization ... Edwina’s wry outlook and wrestling with thoughts about what it means to make it in America will resonate with readers. Those who enjoy the work of Charles Yu should take a look.