The Year She Left Us follows the four women of the Kong family, spanning three generations, each with her own distinct personality and perspective. Kathryn Ma’s debut novel is both an immigrant story and a coming of age story, one that tackles the intricacies of international adoption, family obligation, and abandonment issues from a variety of angles.
These are four very strong, realistic female characters. They are independent and self-reliant, carrying themselves with confidence despite whatever turmoil they are facing within. Sometimes that confident facade invokes admiration; other times, frustration.
Shannon at River City Reading felt the alternating viewpoints of this novel “caused the reading experience to lose fluidity.” I wholeheartedly agree with that. I felt pretty lukewarm about the book for far too long, not connecting in any significant way until I was well more than halfway through. This is a story that unfolds slowly, and although the alternating perspectives caused more interruptions than I would have liked, I was still compelled to stick with it. The tenderness and wisdom of the ending left me feeling that this was time well spent.