Ruby Lang is one of my favorite author finds this year. I like the way she writes and the worlds and characters she creates. Her writing has a wry wit and a spare, natural style. Her characters interact like normal human beings. Side note: Lang’s story follows a Millennial man and woman, of Asian American and Afro-Latina descent. I, as a Gen X white woman, am absolutely unqualified to judge the quality of representation, I can only say that to me, they are relatable characters.
This isn’t really an enemies to lovers story. Magda and Ty find them on opposite sides of an issue, but they like each other and even when they are in disagreement, there’s an easiness between them. The issue between them is a community garden. Magda is a real estate agent tasked with selling an empty lot, and needs the income the sale will bring. The lot, once a magnate for garbage, rats, and crime, is now a beautiful community garden. Ty is one of the founding members of that garden. It is one of the few things outside work and his sister that anchors him. For each of them, the future of the garden directly impacts their own future.
Magda Ferrer is a such a Millennial. A lot of people have strong opinions about what she should be doing and how, but she is hemmed in by crushing debt and the whims of her elders, plus the forces of late stage capitalism. She is very quietly and diligently keeping her head down and trying to solve her problems, like an adult. In Ty, she begins to find someone who can listen to her and support her without taking over.
Tyson Yang has been floating through his life since his mother died and his father ran away to start a new life in Taiwan. Ty constantly plays down his importance to the community garden, and it’s importance to him. The only attachment he is willing to acknowledge is his relationship with his sister. His attraction to Magda sparks more life in him than he’s felt in a while.
Marriage, or the promise of marriage is the happily ever after that most romances are going for. Ruby Lang stops short of that with the happy ending being the couple deciding that they are a couple. That can be frustrating because as a long time reader of the genre, I have expectations for where the story will go. However, it fits so perfectly with the way Lang weaves her stories into the real world. In the real world, Millennials are getting married later, if at all. Part of the reason they are getting married later is the debt they carry. Ty and Magda may never marry, but they have found someone who be their partner, will support them and be their advocate. The relationship is more important than the ring and the relationship doesn’t mean that problems disappear. Magda has given up on some of her dreams in pursuit of financial stability, but with Ty, she also gets to find personal happiness. I want to see them going on with their relationship, but it isn’t necessary to the story Lang is telling.
I received this as an arc from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Open House is out November 11.