The Year She Left Us by Kathryn Ma

The Year She Left Us by Kathryn MaThe Year She Left Us by Kathryn Ma
Published by Harper Collins on 5/13/2014
Source: TLC Book Tours
Pages: 336
Buy from IndieBound


Three generations of women circle one another in Kathryn Ma’s debut novel, The Year She Left Us. After decades of living in the United States, Gran, the Kong family matriarch never approved of her daughter Charlie adopting from China, claiming Ari would come from uneducated stock. At eighteen, while visiting her home orphanage in China, years of perfectionism and questioning send Ari down a path of self-discovery that will separate her from her family, but eventually bring her closer to their family secrets.

The women in The Year She Left Us are all such vibrant, strong characters, yet they all have flaws that make them feel perfectly realistic. While the alternating viewpoints work well in showing the vast differences in the women’s personalities, it causes the reading experience to lose fluidity, particularly as physical distance grows between the women. This device has worked across continents and time periods in other novels, but feels a bit clunky here.

The main attraction of the book is the delicate connections between generations, even those not dictated by birth. For those interested in exploring the way family secrets can bind us, The Year She Left Us is a must read.