Beautiful as Yesterday

Fan Wu, Author . Atria $24 (354p) ISBN 978-1-4165-9889-3

In this second novel from Wu (February Flowers ), the story of two estranged sisters who have emigrated to the United States from China sings in places, but is otherwise wooden and unsurprising. In the turn-of-the-millennium Bay Area, Mary Chang is struggling to overcome a restlessness generated by the growing distance in her marriage; her bitter feelings toward her younger sister, Ingrid; and the impending six-month visit of her widowed mother which Mary hopes will become permanent. Having witnessed Tiananmen Square as a college student in China, Ingrid is now piecing together a living in New York as a tour guide and translator, traveling often, changing boyfriends just as frequently and hanging with artsy, bohemian friends. When her mother arrives in the U.S., Ingrid moves to San Francisco to be close by. Predictably, secrets from the past are revealed. A surprise plot twist in the climax is oddly devoid of tension. Shifting points of view among chapters don't clarify the characters, who remain half-formed and fuzzy. Though strong in the sections set in China, the book feels unfinished and derivative of Amy Tan and other Asian-American writers. (July)

Reviewed on: 05/11/2009
Release date: 07/01/2009
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 354 pages - 978-1-4165-9890-9
Paperback - 354 pages - 978-0-330-44775-1
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-4391-0955-7
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-330-50486-7
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