So three books came out this year that deal with trans-racial adoption…and somehow they all have the exact same plot. And two have the exact same ending.
So that’s annoying. This book is good, mostly. It’s hard to deal with a topical topic and and then have that topic explored in almost exactly the same terms as other books. This book is well-written and the main plotline is interesting and well-handled. In a lot of ways it reminds me of Ann Patchett, domestic-ish, dealing with an interesting take on a world the author is exploring, it doesn’t fall into the trap of poorly arguing for the quality of an artist’s work.
And even in the discussion of the adoption, Ng does a significantly better job painting the stakes and creating the characters who are involved in that part of the book. I still think the best book of the year that deal with it significantly is “Lucky Boy” because most people go beyond well-meaning in their goodness, and their badness is mostly in the situation. This book strikes a good balance.
And because this is only the subplot of the book, whereas the real thrust of the novel is calling out the inherent offensiveness of the proposed inoffensiveness of planned communities and whiteness, this book succeeds. It’s just an unfortunate occurrence (it’s not a coincidence so much as a marketplace of ideas issue) that plot has become too well-tread this year. So all in all I did like this book, but it’s marred, but not at all bad.