cover image Red String Theory

Red String Theory

Lauren Kung Jessen. Forever, $16.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-5387-1028-9

Jessen (Lunar Love) impresses with this surprising and sophisticated contemporary romance. Professionally, sculptor Rooney Gao goes by “Red String Girl,” hoping to make a name for herself in New York City’s art world independently of her mother, a famous performance artist. Now her art installation in Washington Square Park—which plays on both string theory and a Chinese myth that two people fated to fall in love are tied together with red thread—may be Rooney’s big break. Jack Liu, a systems engineer at NASA, has just been passed over for a promotion when he runs into Rooney and her art installation—though he doesn’t realize the two are connected. The pair meet again at a Lantern Festival party, leading to a night of deep conversation and unexpected romance. When Jack takes on a new role as a liaison for NASA’s artist-in-residence program, he picks Red String Girl for the residency—and is shocked to be reunited with Rooney once more. Inextricably drawn to each other, the duo run several “fate tests,” trying to determine if fate or choice rules their lives and their budding relationship. It’s unusually cerebral for a romance, marrying a believable love connection with a thoughtful meditation on how humans make meaning in life. The result is smart, sensitive, and striking. Agent: Ann Leslie Tuttle, Dystel, Goderich & Bourett. (Jan.)