Before Lan, a distant relative, arrived from China, the Wong family knew who they were: father Carnegie; mother Blondie; two adopted Chinese daughters, Lizzie and Wendy; and one biological son, Bailey. Except for baby Bailey, each member takes turns beseeching the listener to understand the Wong family from his or her perspective. It seems fitting that multiple narrators should take turns telling a story that explores the complex frontiers of the modern American family, but their overlapping, interrupting voices create a chaos that, while accurately representing family life, may prove unsettling to listeners. Additionally, interjections like Carnegie's single-line rejoinders to Blondie's laments, or Lizzie's sudden, venomous reactions to Wendy's sweet childhood stories make the characters feel more like disembodied voices than real people. Carnegie and his daughters are given clear voices and appropriate accents, but Blondie's voice sounds strangely exotic and not at all Middle American, as it's supposed be. All in all, though the novel has the makings of an important work of literature, this audio translation may bring listeners more confusion than satisfaction.
Reviewed on: 09/01/2004 Release date: 09/01/2004 Genre: Fiction