As a reader, this was a great experience. I simply inhaled this book. I’d pause and notice how many pages had gone by. I don’t want to make it sounds like this was an easy read – just fluid. Ng is a master of pacing, of knowing when to step back to provide a larger view, when to shift time, and even when to shift into the second person.
As a parent, this was a difficult read. What we do to / for / because of her children has ripple effects that we can’t always contain, even if we can recognize them – and even that’s guaranteed.
On the surface (those of you who have read it will know why I can’t seem to avoid water-related diction), it seems like this will be a mystery story. Consider the two opening sentences: “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” Indeed, the plot is driven by the desire (of the reader, of the characters) to know what happened. The reason this book resonates with me, though, are the larger questions Ng explores – what does it mean to belong? to try (very hard) to fit in? Why is it we don’t say the things we need to say to the people who need to hear them?
Start it for the plot, for those opening two sentences, and you’ll remember it for how much it seems familiar.