Malinda Lo does a masterful job of pulling the narrative together
I’ve been a big fan of this author since I read Ash years ago so I had this book on my TBR list for a long time. Rave reviews and important awards are great, but the story seemed like a good fit for me, so I waited for the right time.
It’s 1954, San Francisco and everything is about to change for Lily Hu. Until her senior year, life has marched on, her circle of friends the same forever, using her own words, her actions always those of a good Chinese daughter. But when she spots a photo of a male impersonator in a newspaper article, a window opens inside of her. I remember my own moment and it’s so specific and so compelling a feeling that it’s almost impossible not to follow. Lily does just that and connects with a girl at school named Kathleen Miller. They become friends and more.
Here’s what I love about the book, the view of nightlife in 1954 from the pov of a teenager on the brink of adulthood, the ache of being caught between two worlds, the awe in Lily when she begins to step into her own future, the headiness of first love.
The author tells Lily’s story in the maturing voice of someone who is no longer a child but still caught at home under parents’ rules. Oftentimes, YA books have a younger perspective but I felt the weight of an emerging woman’s viewpoint which added to the potency. Although the story has painful scenes, the author is protective of her characters and the reader. She does a masterful job of pulling the narrative together to give us a truthful and satisfying ending. The audiobook is voiced perfectly. 5 stars.
Length: 12 hrs and 26 mins