The City Is a Rising Tide

Rebecca Lee, Author
Rebecca Lee, Author . Simon & Schuster $21 (200p) ISBN 978-0-7432-7665-8
Reviewed on: 05/08/2006
Release date: 06/01/2006

Early 1990s New York and 1970s Beijing intersect in the memory of Justine, who narrates her own downward spiral into an obsessive, unrequited love. Justine and co-worker Peter are, respectively, the sole staff and founder of a quasi-legitimate nonprofit quixotically attempting to build a holistic center in boom-time China. The two first met when Justine was just a child in Mao's Beijing, and Peter was already tossing about in shadowy financial deals; she fell for him then. A self-righteous ex-boyfriend, a chorus of women friends and a concerned family all tell Justine that waiting for Peter to reciprocate her love is a masochist's dream; a late revelation concerning Peter's unavailability is unsustained by the wispy plot. Like Justine, this debut lacks definition, but that becomes one of its strengths: a portrait of a perceptive yet lost woman who traces her own self-destruction with the same patient helplessness with which she loves. (July)

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