The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Lee's latest novel intricately details the lives of three American women living in the expatriate community in Hong Kong. Margaret, who moved to Hong Kong with her husband and three children, is dealing with a horrible loss and how it has affected her entire being. Hilary, wealthy and married, is adrift in life - struggling to have a baby and floundering in her marriage. And Mercy, the youngest, is a Korean American trying to recover from her own recent horrors and figure out where she belongs. Their lives and stories are linked in small and large ways, as they each traverse the difficulties of life and the consequences of their actions.
It sounds trite - the linked stories of three women, but the book is nearly magical. The chapters are compelling and amazing: you truly feel as if you are there, with the characters, getting completely caught up in their lives and stories. It's one of those books where not a lot happens, yet in some ways, everything happens, and it's mesmerizing somehow. Lee has a unique voice for each character and they each become clearer and defined as the book goes on; they are so themselves that you can't ever imagine not knowing them, or how they would react to a given situation. Much of what happens is sad- in fact, there were times where I felt like my heart was physically hurting reading - but there is much redemption in the book as well. I truly found parts of it to be beautiful.
The ending, which I felt like could have been too easy, or conversely, easily ruined, felt perfect somehow. My only complaint with this book? That it ended. After I finished it, I found myself standing at the sink later that evening, washing some dishes, and thinking, "oh at least I get to read my book later tonight" and then feeling nothing but profound disappointment that the book was over, and I was done being a part of these characters' lives. Lovely, poignant book - highly recommend.
I must note that I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley (thanks!), though I wasn't approved until after it was published. The good news for you is that this novel is available now (as of 1/12/16) in all the various publication forms.
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