Review by Booklist Review
Tan's follow-up to her historical fiction debut, The Black Isle (2012), explores the lives of six interconnected characters who live in suburban Los Angeles in 2006. Teen sisters Rosemary and Miracle Park are in rebellion against their mother's plan to move back to Korea after the shocking suicide of their father. Their mother, Beverly, shows the short stories her husband wrote to their neighbor Raymond, a lonely horror novelist whose best-selling days may be behind him, and he proves to be a harsh critic. Down the street lives Kate Ireland, the solitary adopted Vietnamese daughter of wayward spirit Mary Sue, who fled to Florida in the hopes that it would inspire Kate to spread her wings. As the year winds on, Rosemary explores her burgeoning sexuality with both a classmate and a lecherous drama teacher; Kate reconnects with her best friend from high school, who carries a torch for her; and the Park family move looms large. Tan presents a sharp-eyed exploration of the influence of people and place on us all and considers the importance of home.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Filmmaker and author Tan's ambitious second novel (after The Black Isle) is an ensemble affair set mostly on Santa Claus Lane in Alta Vista, a community north of Los Angeles. In the Park home, mother Beverly and teen daughters Rosemary and Mira cope with the suicide of family patriarch Kee Hyun. Meanwhile, their eccentric author neighbor, Raymond van der Holt, beefs up his home security system and wonders if his house is haunted; and across the street, Kate Ireland's reunion with a childhood friend, nicknamed Bluto, results in an unexpected pregnancy. Beverly's plan to move her family back to Korea is met with anger from Mira, who tries to sabotage the efforts, and Rosemary, herself caught in a love triangle with a classmate and their drama teacher. Raymond, meanwhile, begins tracking thieves around the neighborhood, and Kate's adoptive mother, Mary-Sue, moves in to help with Kate's pregnancy, though Kate keeps the identity of the father a secret after Bluto boasts to her about dating a 15-year-old girl. Tan carefully builds Alta Vista's intersecting lives and smoothly taps into three generations of voices as the various threads eventually converge, though a ludicrous finale almost sinks the ship. Still, Tan's powers of observation make this outing worthwhile. Agent: Mollie Glick, CAA. (Mar.)
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