Nguyen gives us a snapshot of life for a family who are coping with adapting to a new culture in a new country, doing everything they can to assimilate without losing their culture. But when their daughter is struck by a sudden medical crisis, they all must figure out how to understand what is happening and how to cope.
I was struck by the raw truth of Ahn’s bipolar disorder and how it impacted her relationships and her hopes and dreams. The initial crisis she suffers is well documented from all sides, her own fears, her parents uncertainty and her doctor’s desire to help. What is also really well illustrated is the lack of clear communication about the fact that this is a lifelong condition and that while genetics play a role, it is not a blame game situation. It is hard to read Ahn’s parents questioning what they have done wrong and how their actions have led to the life they lead and Ahn’s struggles. The exploration of culture on mental illness and how it impacts understanding is really well done. I appreciated the depiction of Ahn’s struggle to feel her true self was blunted by the medication and how her self harm offered relief but real dangers.
This is the perfect read for both AAPI Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness month, it covers both topics and how they interplay perfectly. There are a lot of serious topics here so proceed with caution, however if you have someone in your life with mental illness, this may help build empathy.
Thanks to Book Publicity Services and the author for the gifted copy. All opinions above are my own.
If you could move to another country, which one would you choose?