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I have grown a bit wary of novels that describe quirky families and attempt to turn the psycho dramatics of relationships into entertainment . In broad strokes these books sometimes lack a depth missing descriptions of the inner turmoil that underlies behavior. This novel succeeds on every level, FFFM is a revelation. Characters are drawn with a brutally compassionate wisdom and detail that brings them to life. Although, the story revolves around the Korean American , recent Ivy League grad, Casey Han, as she moves from college into the "real" world we become intimately familiar with the network of people that touch her life. Each one of these becomes 3-D and real with unique motives, limitations and hopes. Each personal experience reflected with dignity thus, earning earning my compassion. Ms Lee addresses the larger issues of race, class and the affect they have on our self image and soul to the still larger issues OF LOVE, RELIGION, FAITH, that commonly manifest for most of us human creatures as we go about living our life . Ms Lee has sensitively describes the especially awkward time of moving from college age into the adult world; from "knowing things" we learned into "knowing" from experience.. Lee is an artist of the first magnitude she has the emotional genius to be able to write with a "spiritually evolved" open heart, giving her the ability to use the lightest touch to challenge her readers with the deepest of ideas. WHAT A GIFT!!! I will wait impatiently for her next book. In the interim I will miss the characters of this beautiful book wondering what happens to them next, they feel like friends. This audio book is right at the top---with Bryce Courtney, James Herriot and a few others. Lee can be ranked with the talented Pulitizer winner J. Lahiri (THE NAMeSAKE) in writing insightfully about the American immigrant experience.
19 of 20 people found this review helpful
This is the story of a Korean-American young woman who has difficulty finding her way after graduating from Princeton and returning to New York City. Irresponsible and naive in the beginning, Casey overspends on luxuries she cannot afford and makes many poor choices. (I had often wondered what makes some women compulsively shop for unnecessary luxuries they cannot afford. This novel gave me some sympathetic insight.) In the years that follow Casey develops more maturity. We root for her to handle her life better, but she sometimes continues to make some errors in judgment right to the conclusion of this novel. In a sense, this is the novel's greatest fascination, and it is precisely what saves this novel from being banal. As we grow to like her, Casey is a character who is not obviously predictable and still sometimes makes mistakes. And yet, we witness with admiration how she learns to trust her own feelings and to provide solace for others. Not only Casey, but a number of the other female characters are portrayed in believable depth: Casey's mother and sister, her Korean-American friend Ella, and her benefactor Sabine. Most of the male characters (father, boyfriends, husbands, etc.) play supporting roles and are treated rather superficially. With one reservation, I felt the narrator did an excellent job. She evidently does not have the ability even to attempt the accents of the older generation of Korean-Americans, although the narrator did nevertheless give a unique, recognizable voice to each of the characters. Perhaps, a bi-cultural Korean-American would have been an even better choice for narrator. The producer of this audiobook, however, should have corrected the narrator's mispronunciations of a number of words like "Stuyvesant" ( frequently used in place names in New York), "Gauloises" (a very well known brand of French cigarettes), and the adjective "amiable."
7 of 7 people found this review helpful