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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Janice Y. K. Lee’s New York Times bestselling debut, The Piano Teacher, was called “immensely satisfying” by People, “intensely readable” by O, The Oprah Magazine, and “a rare and exquisite story” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Now, in her long-awaited new novel, Lee explores with devastating poignancy the emotions, identities, and relationships of three very different American women living in the same small expat community in Hong Kong. Mercy, a young Korean American and recent Columbia graduate, is adrift, undone by a terrible incident in her recent past. Hilary, a wealthy housewife, is haunted by her struggle to have a child, something she believes could save her foundering marriage. Meanwhile, Margaret, once a happily married mother of three, questions her maternal identity in the wake of a shattering loss. As each woman struggles with her own demons, their lives collide in ways that have irreversible consequences for them all. Atmospheric, moving, and utterly compelling, The Expatriates…

The Expatriates: A Novel

by Janice Y.K. Lee

Overall Book Review:

I have heard so many good things about this book, and I imagine you may have also. Well, get ready to hear even more positive things, because that is all I have to say about The Expatriates.

At first I wasn’t really sure where this book was going. There were two narrators introduced in the first section of the book, and then in the next section, another narrator seemed to pop up out of nowhere. My confusion was only momentary though, as soon all of the narrators began to connect. Looking back, I think perhaps that was the author’s intention: to show just how small the world is, and how easily worlds can connect and collide.

Three women are all trying to hold their lives together as some form of tragedy strikes. For one it begins with a trip out of the country; for another it begins with a new relationship; for the third it is the loss of a relationship that she thought would last forever. I loved how it seemed like these three women and their stories were all so different, but then suddenly every piece fit together and a clear picture emerged.

This is a book rich with lessons on how to move on after loss, what not to do on social media, and who might stick around through everything–even when they seem the most unlikely. I think it would be a great choice for a book club, as it has many topics that could be discussed. This is a book you don’t want to miss.

Review of an Advance Reader’s Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Viking

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  1 religious profanity; 1 mild obscenity; 1 derogatory name; 4 scatological words; 1 anatomical term; 6 F-word derivatives. 

Violence/Gore:  Several violent accidents are mentioned to have occurred in the past; a report of violence where a gun is fired and an arm is blown off is mentioned; a child goes missing and multiple scenarios are imagined of what has happened to him. 

Sex/Nudity:  A man and woman are mentioned to have slept together; a man hits another womans butt in a sexual manner; a woman suspects her husband is having an affair; a man is mentioned to be nude in bed, sex is implied to have happened previously; a man sends a sexual text to his wife; sexual innuendo occurs; a man and woman kiss; a man carries on an extramarital affair with a younger woman; skinny dipping is mentioned without detail; pole dancing and seeing ladies strip is mentioned with no explicit detail.

Mature Subject Matter:

Missing children, personal crises, extramarital affairs, social and political issues, divorce.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Adults drink beer; champagne is drunk by adults in celebration; a man is mentioned to be drunk; cigarettes are smoked by adults; teen drinking occurs in one brief scene.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Books and reading have always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my grandma was the library director at our local public library. Years later, after she had retired, I became a librarian at the same library and worked there for several years before taking a part-time job at a local coffee shop, which gives me more time to do what I love, to read and to review books! A few of my favorite authors are Aimee Bender, Diane Chamberlain, and Curtis Sittenfeld however, I will read almost any book I come across! In my spare time you can find me reading (of course), volunteering at a wildlife animal rehab, or hanging out with my two house rabbits.