... even to those not from Los Angeles, Ho’s debut collection feels like a shared experience, carefully read back to you ... While Ho, born in Taiwan and raised in California, circles sexuality, money and religion with grace, the most moving parts of the book are about the two women’s respective family roots ... Certain descriptions feel overdone and stilted ... But regardless, over the course of the book Fiona and Jane become real and electric and precious people. The stories move through intimate, cinematic scenes ... The world Ho creates between the two women feels like one friend reading the other’s story, wishing she were there ... it is through compassion that the characters belong like this to each other, and to the reader, too.
... wonderful ... Interestingly, the book is not designated a short story collection nor a novel and, indeed, it occupies a space that is neither one nor the other, a unique form for which we need a new name ... The way in which Ho crafted this book—the decisions she made about what to put where—adds complexity and depth, which in turn invites the reader to take a closer look, to be more involved in the process of reading. The result is a book that is built on memory, a book that speaks to the importance and difficulties and richness of friendship between women over time, a book that braids its form and content together to create meaning ... a wonderful way to conclude this book, as it sheds new light on everything that has come before.
The friendships that do survive feel precious, unlikely. One such is at the tender, beating heart of Jean Chen Ho's debut work of fiction, Fiona and Jane ... These introductions to the girls' (later women's) families are helpful in setting the scene, showing us what they share in terms of background, language, and family, but it's the third piece, Go Slow, where we really begin to see their friendship shine on the page. Their dynamic rings beautifully true ... Ho renders both women so real that they begin to feel like people you've encountered and hung out with. She also has a knack for rendering their darker, meaner thoughts, those they're sometimes ashamed of, with brutal honesty ... While Fiona and Jane sometimes feels quiet, it is never muted, and its precisely the fact that the women's trials and tribulations feel refreshingly life-sized that makes the book ring so beautifully, sometimes terribly, true.