888 love and the divine burden of numbers

Abraham Chang

Book - 2024

"Young is an American Born Chinese (ABC) growing up in Queens and has been told by his beloved Su Su (uncle) that one has only seven great loves in a lifetime. Young's childhood is marked by an obsessive love of comics, music, and movies. . . as well as a parade of school-yard crushes, tantalizing pen-pal exchanges, and a lasting infatuation with Winona Ryder. But, at the end of 1995, when Young is a sophomore at NYU, he meets Erena-brilliant, charismatic, quick-witted, and crassly funny. They fall in love and, for Young, it feels so real that he's thrilled and terrified that it could be his lasting love number seven. Interspersed through Young and Erena's story are flashbacks to various points in the 80s and early 90s w...here we meet Young's great loves one through five. Written with the pop culture fluency of High Fidelity, the tender family drama of Everything Everywhere All at Once, the literary scope of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and with a bombastically sweet style all his own, Abraham Chang's 888 Love and the Divine Burden of Numbers is a monumental debut that will be read for years to come"--

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FICTION/Chang Abraham
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1st Floor New Shelf FICTION/Chang Abraham (NEW SHELF) Due Jun 6, 2024
Subjects
Genres
Romance fiction
Novels
Published
New York : Flatiron Books 2024.
Language
English
Main Author
Abraham Chang (author)
Edition
First edition
Physical Description
394 pages ; cm
ISBN
9781250910783
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

In November 1995, Young Zheng Wang--he of endless nicknames: Young Sun, Young Gun, Young Hun, as if he would always be so mutable--is a commuting NYU freshman, still living at home in Queens, working at Jim's Undertow where Erena Ji-Yoon Renee Valentina Yasuda walks in seeking anime. She's destined to be Young's sixth love--he's rather numbers-obsessed--and maybe even his "divine 888 love." She follows Young's first (freckled, nose-picking Denise with her chocolate milk allergy), third (wintergreen Tic Tac-demanding Jenny), and fifth (childhood pen pal Wen Ding who leaves him infectiously heartbroken). Meanwhile, his beloved, lottery-winning uncle sends reports of peripatetic romantic adventures. Lifelong BFFs Paris and Gina, of course, remain ever-supportive, as are his immigrant Chinese parents (still so in love) and irresistibly adorable (much) younger sister. Publishing industry veteran Chang's debut is a riotous coming-of-age, written with electric energy and powered by (now) classic late twentieth-century music and films and dreamy directorial conversations. Alas, getting through the clever three-version epilogue could prove too-much-of-a-good-thing for many, but Young love (mostly) entertains.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Chang channels High Fidelity for a lively if underdeveloped story of a first-generation Chinese American reckoning with his heritage and his first potentially serious relationship. It's 1995 and NYU undergrad Young Wang works at a used record and video store. When his classmate Erena Yasuda comes into the store looking for anime recommendations, he parlays their interaction into a date. Things seem to go well--she opens up about her mixed Japanese and Korean heritage, and they kiss, but then Young flees. It turns out Young's globe-trotting, lottery-winning uncle once told him everyone has seven great loves in their life, and Young has only loved five girls before he met Erena. What follows is a series of flashbacks to his previous infatuations, which ended either in the friend zone or with Young otherwise heartbroken. Meanwhile, in the present day, Young relentlessly emails Erena for a second date, wondering if his uncle's theory is right after all. Stylistic flourishes abound; in addition to email transcripts and explanations of pager code, Chang imagines conversations with his favorite film directors including Rob Reiner ("You never did like All in the Family (not really the target demographic), but it's me--Meathead! I done good, yeah?"). The numerology stuff feels a bit half-baked, but Chang strikes all the right notes in his portrayal of a tender youth. Gen Xers will revel in the nostalgia. Agent: Faye Bender, Book Group. (May)

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

A college student with a thing for music, movies, and numbers falls in love. Young Wang, the protagonist of Chang's debut novel, has a thing for numbers. The New York University student keeps an updated list of them, good and bad: 1, for example, is "the first, the best. GOOD," while 44 is "SO BAD. ALWAYS AVOID." So when his uncle, Su Su, tells him that "we only get seven great loves in life," he takes it seriously, especially when he meets Erena, a fellow NYU student, at the used CD and DVD store where he works. (As you may have guessed, this novel is set in the 1990s.) Erena, whose quirk meter is off the charts, introduces herself thusly: "I'm Erena. Erena Ji-Yoon Renee Valentina Yasuda.…It's a lot, but it accurately conveys the lineage of this petite package of pulchritude--little bit of this, little bit of that. It's like the whole Axis ran riot over my entire family tree! Hello? Humor? I made a funny?" The novel chronicles the relationship between Young and Erena, interspersed with Young's remembrances of his previous loves, his relationship with his family and his best friends, and letters from Su Su, a hippie who has embraced a peripatetic lifestyle. Unfortunately, these threads never come together--Young is a depressed cipher, and Erena, who says things like "So, voilà, bingobango," is such a Manic Pixie Dream Girl archetype that she makes Natalie Portman's character in Garden State look like Nurse Ratched. (Young, himself a cinephile, would get that reference.) The pace of the novel is slow despite the hyper dialogue and Chang's extremely liberal use of ALL CAPS and italics, and the ending is unsatisfying. Chang has heart, there's no doubt about that, but this novel is a misfire. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.