Book Title and Author: China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
General Thoughts: The second book in the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, China Rich Girlfriend focuses on the newly married Rachel Young and the familial discoveries of her father’s side. When Rachel meets her father, he invites her and Nick to spend time with him in Shanghai, but the plan goes awry when he and his wife disagree on Rachel’s visit. This leaves Rachel and Nick in China without her dad and instead in the company of Rachel’s half-brother, Carlton, and his celebrity girlfriend, Colette. They introduce Rachel and Nick to all of the most extravagant and exclusive places and experiences China has to offer–which is even more absurd than the wealth they encountered with Nick’s family in Singapore–but also to the chaos that it can come with.
From the events to the interesting characters, Kwan provides great detail for this narrative. You experience the development of a sibling bond and the power it can have. The conflicts weren’t as strong or suspenseful as I’d like, but they didn’t hinder the storytelling. I enjoyed the side story concerning Astrid, her husband, and ex. I did, however, find that the minor narrative concerning Kitty Pong and her attempted transformation from unvalued celebrity to a high-class elite to be unfulfilling. It had its intriguing moments but ultimately deserved more time and space.
Book Title and Author: The Last to Let Go by Amber Smith
General Thoughts: When I first saw this book at Barnes and Noble, I immediately recognized it to be an Amber Smith book because the cover design looks just like her other book, The Way I Used to Be. I wasn’t sure if this was supposed to be related to that one because the covers went together, but now I know they are two independent stories that don’t relate. It’s just branding and consistency on Smith’s and her people’s part.
The Last to Let Go is about all of the changes happening in Brooke’s life, mainly the aftermath of her mom killing her abusive dad and Brooke transferring to a more advanced school. Brooke’s mom being arrested for her dad’s murder is the big problem in her life that causes a lot of change. Her living situation obviously changes, because she and her siblings have no parents to live with. Her mom is on trial for much of the book and wants to know what’s going on. Her sister was there to witness the murder but has PTSD and won’t really speak to Brooke or anyone. Brooke starts at her new school, which proves to be more difficult than she thought, and is struggling to find and accept herself. Throughout the book, she tries to keep her life in order and maintain how it was before despite all of the changes happening in her life.
Overall, it was a pretty good story that had a lot of different aspects to it but not too many where it was overwhelming. It was clear that Brooke grew as a person from the start to the end of the book and learned that things couldn’t stay as they were. However, considering the big catalyst of change in the story was her mom murdering her abusive father, I would have liked to known what and how that happened. It’s never mentioned what really happened when Brooke’s mom killed her dad. I don’t need the gory details or anything, but it’s natural that the reader would be curious as to how that happened, especially when the physically abusive person in the relationship is the one who died. Also, addressing Brooke’s sexuality seemed quite random when it was initially brought up.
Book Title and Author: Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi
General Thoughts: This book started off dark and confusing but quickly become creative and alluring—I finished the second half in record time. The somewhat ambiguous plot is well-worth your patience. Mr. Fox is a writer who can’t help but kill the heroines of his stories until a young woman named Mary comes along and challenges his writing—and his life—in a multitude of ways. I don’t want to give too much away, because there isn’t much of a concrete narrative to discuss, but also because this is a story that is best kept mysterious. It is reminiscent of the old European fairy tale “Bluebeard,” about a wealthy nobleman who kills off all of his wives. This book is challenging in a good way and makes for great discussion. I really appreciate Oyeyemi’s writing style and plan to pick up more of her books in the future!