Holt, Henry & Company, Inc. | June 2018 | 304 pgs
Source: Library

This debut novel by Lillian Li is a story about family and dreams; and most of all it is a story about the relationship between parents and children, youth and aging and one's value and devotion.

The Beijing Duck House in Rockville, Maryland, has made its name through Bobby Han's foresight and his belief of traditional Chinese cuisines and the connections it bring people together, be it a place for celebrations or merely for gatherings. This legacy is passed on to his youngest son, Jimmy Han, after Bobby's death and the oldest son, Johnny, left for Hong Kong to start off a new life. Johnny has no intention of running the Duck House although he is the more capable one among the two brothers. His only nineteen-year-old daughter, Annie, remains in the States as she works as a waitress at the Duck House.

Nan and Ah-Jack are longtime employees at the Duck House and knew the family-run restaurant inside out. Despite each is married, they never find the love they've for their spouse and over the years friendship and familiarity have slowly take a turn into something else but both of them chose to let things as they are even though they care too much for each other. Nan has a seventeen-year-old son, Pat, and he works as a dishwasher at the Duck House. He is one troubled teen filled with angst.

Jimmy has plans to leave his late father's homespun establishment for a classier one; ditching their old menus for an Asian fusion dishes. But of course setting up new business needs financials and he isn't sure if striking up a deal with Pang, an old family friend, is wise until tragedy strikes, implicating Pat and Annie to the already complicated Hans family saga as they're somewhat involved in setting the Duck House in flames. How would the Hans brothers and Nan react and how much are they willing to sacrifice to help their children?

There are a lot of things going on in this story. The friction within the Hans family household, the relationship between Nan and Ah-Jack and the vulnerability side of Pat and Annie as they are most often cast aside by their own parents due to work demands and their own selfish needs. It's a great exploration and an in-depth look of various relationships, but I felt there should be some backstory about Pang, considering how he played an "important" role in all the connections to the Duck House. Overall it was a promising debut and I look forward to the author's next book. 

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12 Responses
  1. jenclair Says:

    I like the sound of this one and LOVE the cover. Thanks, Melody!

  2. Kay Says:

    I like the sound of this book, too. And I agree about the cover. I'll watch for it because it sounds like a good one to slip in between others.

  3. Jenny Says:

    This one sounds as crazy as its cover. ;D I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  4. I would like to give this one a try too. I am sorry Pang did not get more attention back story wise. I think I would be curious as well!

  5. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - That cover is lovely, isn't it? It is what made me pick up this book in the first place. :)

  6. Melody Says:

    Kay - It was a refreshing break from those suspenseful books which I love to read; plus it's always good to explore new-to-me authors. :)

  7. Melody Says:

    Jenny - It's a book about what the Han's family would do based on the circumstances through their Chinese mindset and culture. As I said to Kay, it was a refreshing break from my regular reads.

  8. Melody Says:

    Wendy - I hope you'll enjoy it if you get to it, Wendy.

  9. Verushka Says:

    I like the complexity of the relationship and the family ties between everyone. It sounds like a wonderful, character-filled read

  10. Melody Says:

    Verushka - Yes, it was an interesting case of characters study.

  11. Iliana Says:

    So glad to read your review of this one. I know I've seen it around a bit and glad you liked it. I definitely want to read it.

  12. Melody Says:

    Iliana - I'll be curious of your thoughts if you do read it, Iliana.

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