Publication Date: 28 November 2014
Format: Paperback, 292 pgs
Lydia Lee was sixteen when she had gone missing. Her mother, Marilyn, was the first one who noticed something was amiss when she opened her daughter's door and saw the bed unslept in.
What immediately unfolds next is learning about Lydia's death and a series of events that make the Lees family to question about Lydia and the day she disappeared. It seems none of the family members really know what she has been doing or how she was getting along with her friends. Lydia was the middle child of the family; she had an elder brother, Nathan, and a younger sister, Hannah. Lydia was the most favoured child in the family, especially her mother who had high hopes of her.
Nathan is suspicious of a boy called Jack, who is their neighbour as well. He has the reputation of wooing girls and discarding them like used rags in school. Nathan believes Lydia was his latest target, but he didn't share his suspicion with his parents or the police.
However, there is much more to the mystery for what also hold this story is the different ethnicity of the Lees family. Their father, James, is an American born of the first-generation Chinese immigrants while their mother is a native American. This together with their background differences have made them conspicuous in a small-town Ohio, especially in the 1970s, in which this story's time period is set. Despite James being born in America, he still finds himself an outcast and a misfit.
Marilyn, on the other end, is a woman who has her dreams of becoming a doctor but meeting and marrying James have altered her plans. Family becomes her, and after Lydia's death she felt the world has came crashing down on her. The relationship between Marilyn and James began to waver, as each begins to wonder what would happen if she has sought her dreams or if he has married a woman of the same race.
What makes this literary fiction a poignant read is it explores the domestic dynamics of a mixed racial family; the challenges they face with the society as well as the expectations of the parents have of their children. This is not the usual "whodunit" mystery although it does piques readers' curiosity surrounding Lydia's death, though. Nonetheless, readers will be entranced by this tale until the devastating conclusion, where the truth is finally revealed.