Review: World and Town by Gish Jen

world and townI got this in the great clearance sale in 2010 when Borders closed down. Anything that looked somewhat interesting, I grabbed.

I’m going to admit right now that I didn’t finish this book. I tried. I made it 2/3 of the way through, and then the perspective changed to a character about whom I could not have given two shits. So I just stopped. I probably should have stopped sooner, but I’m stubborn.

This is the perfect book for this blog, because the original intent of this blog was for me to have a written history of the books I’ve read and a basic summary of them, because in a year, or hell – even a month – I won’t remember a damn thing about it.

So, for my future self, here is the gist. Hattie is an older Asian woman, I honestly don’t even remember from what country. China, maybe. She lives in the US now, and has for most of her life. She gets neighbors who are Cambodian and becomes kind of obsessed with spying on them. She develops a friendship with the teenaged girl, who is fairly Americanized. The parents can barely function in American society – the father speaks very broken English and the mother not at all. Hattie tries to help with that – and through her spying she is able to see the abuse that also takes place in the home. This family has a sad story – with some of the children in foster care, the son getting mixed up with gangs and drugs.

There’s also a backstory with Hattie and Carter – Carter is a white guy who lives in this town, her age, but they haven’t seen each other in quite some time. There’s some past romantic involvement for them, but they are old and set in their ways and it doesn’t seem like they will get together. Maybe they did at the end of the book. I will never know.

The third subplot involves this lady Ginny who divorces her husband Everett and then sets the house on fire? I am not sure about this because I was completely disinterested in this plot.

This will get donated to my library and perhaps someone will happen upon it who will enjoy it. Not my thing. However, to end on a positive note, I thought the writing itself was top-notch; although on occasion it was a bit heady and dense. Dammit, that wasn’t positive! I liked the title. OK, there you go.

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