Casey Han's four years at Princeton gave her many things, but no job and a number of bad habits. In her debut novel, Lee examines what it means to maintain one's identity amid changing and complex social roles.
... accomplished and engrossing ... an energetic eventfulness and a sprawling cast that call to mind the literary classics of Victorian England ... unmassaged portrayal of present realities emerge in Lee’s ambitious book ... It would be remarkable if she had simply written a long novel that was as easy to devour as a 19th-century romance...But Lee intensifies her drama by setting it against an unfamiliar backdrop: the tightly knit social world of Korean immigrants, whose children strive to blend into their American foreground without clashing with their distinctive background. It’s a feat of coordination and contrast that could kill a chameleon, but Lee pulls it off with conviction ... crosses cultural lines: its heartache is universal.
At first glance, Min Jin Lee's debut epic could be mistaken for an Amy Tan-inspired Asian American tries to balance two worlds family drama. But upon closer inspection, Lee gently but firmly pushes the genre in a more modern direction, and in the process manages to create her own niche in the literary world ... Lee's background, as a Korean-American who went to Yale and lives in New York City, igives her writing with an unmistakable authenticity. She writes the inside language and nuances of ambitious Columbia business school grads as fluently as she writes of the longings of an undereducated, middle-aged Korean mother and choral singer afraid of her own talent ... not a novel to be entered into lightly, but the rewards are well worth the time. It's not a day trip; it's an immersion into a fully realized and beautifully written world.
... different from any book I’ve ever read — a big, juicy, commercial Korean-American coming-of-age novel, one that could spawn a satisfying miniseries, and one that definitely belongs in this summer’s beach bag ... Lee’s writing can be clunky...Even so, Casey’s story is a fabulous one, taking her — and the reader — to some unexpected places.