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Real Americans: A novel by Rachel Khong
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Real Americans: A novel (original 2024; edition 2024)

by Rachel Khong (Author)

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2258121,242 (3.98)14
"An exhilarating novel of American identity that spans three generations in one family, and asks: What makes us who we are? And how inevitable are our futures?"--
Member:elizabethfariello
Title:Real Americans: A novel
Authors:Rachel Khong (Author)
Info:Knopf (2024), 610 pages
Collections:Your library
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Real Americans by Rachel Khong (2024)

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» See also 14 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
This was good. I had a bit of a rough start with this book but I am so glad that I kept reading. The story is told from 3 very different points of view from 3 generations. Lily’s story starts in the late 1990s and takes us through the first years of the new millennium. Her son, Nick’s story takes place in the 2020s and proved to be the highlight of the story for me. Mei’s point of view gave us the backstory needed to understand how this family came to live in America.

This book is told in three sections and almost reads like three stories that happen to feature the same group of characters. It was interesting to see how each of these characters dealt with the issues they faced. I was especially interested in how each of these characters saw their ethnicity and how their experiences differed. The story had a lot of interesting elements including a bit of magic which added a lot to the overall story.

I listened to the audiobook and thought that Louisa Zhu, Eric Yang, and Eunice Wong did a fantastic job with this story. Each narrator read a section of the book and I thought that each of them did a great job of capturing the essence of the characters. I thought that all three narrators had pleasant voices and complimented each other’s nicely. I felt like they were able to add just the right amount of emotion to their reading which added to my overall enjoyment.

I would recommend this book to others. This was a book that covered some important topics that made me think. I grew to care about this group of characters and hoped that things would work out for them in the end. I do hope to read more of this talented author’s work in the future.

I received a review copy of this book from Knopf and Penguin Random House Audio. ( )
  Carolesrandomlife | Jun 8, 2024 |
This is the story of 3 generations of the Chen family. At 22, Lily is working as an unpaid intern, when she attends a company event and meets Matt. They instantly hit it off, but Matt hides the fact that he is part of a very wealthy family. After they marry and have a child, Nick, through IVF, Lily realizes that her family and Matt's family have a history. Lily has moments where she realizes that she can stop time. She doesn't understand this phenomena until much later.
Part 2 of the book is Nick's story as a young man. Part 3 is May's story - Lily's mom, a geneticist, who details life in Mao's China. We learn what May did, which affected her daughter and her grandson, which caused a great rift in the family.
Interesting story with a small bit of fantasy. ( )
  rmarcin | May 29, 2024 |
This book begins in China with May and Peng stealing something from a museum. Part I is told by Lily, May and Charles Chen's daughter. Part II is told by Nick Chen, Lily and Matthew Maier's son. Part III is told by May including the secret she kept from Lily and from Nick. Lily does not feel loved by her mother and seems to be unable to figure out what she is supposed to do with her life. She marries Matthew Allen, a venture capitalist, not knowing that he is the son of a wealthy pharmaceutical family. Part II picks up with Nick in high school on an island off the coast of Washington state. This part tells about the restrictions Lily places on Nick, Nick's friendship with Timothy, a very smart student, his search for and subsequent relationship with his father Matthew. Part III is May telling Nick about her life from the time she lived in China, through the rise of Mao, her and Charles' escape to Hong Kong and then to the United States, and about her genetics research with Otto Maier, Matthew's father. ( )
  baughga | May 29, 2024 |
I have mixed feelings about this novel. There are narratives from three perspectives going backwards and forwards in time: Lily, who marries ultra-wealthy Matthew; then Nick, Lily's son leaving home and discovering the truth about his father; and finally May, Lily's mother, and the story of how she escaped China to come to the US. I liked each narrative in different ways, but the effect of each was to leave the others opaque, so we never saw what Lily was feeling in the last 2/3 of the book for example.

There were some elements that seemed a bit sci-fi to me, but I don't know much about science, so maybe they are all too real, and then the family trait of time standing still, which I assumed was going to be diagnosed as epilepsy, instead was presented as a superpower. This would be a good choice for a book club, as there are plenty of 'issues' to discuss. ( )
  pgchuis | May 14, 2024 |
Rachel Khong wrote the delightful Goodbye Vitamin, and now she has a new novel that takes on three generations of the same family to look at the reasons they split apart and how they might come back together. This novel begins in the middle with Lily Chen, raised by immigrants from China, she feels her mother's disappointment in her lack of purpose, as she works unpaid as an intern and struggles to get by with a series of side gigs. When she meets Matthew, the golden son of a family whose immense wealth is based on their pharmaceutical company, they feel a real connection but their differences may sink their relationship. Then there's Nick, raised by his mother in a small Washington community, feeling like an outsider. Reconnecting with his father is fraught, but that's not the only family member he's never had the opportunity to get to know. And finally, the book goes back to the beginning, with a bright, determined girl grows up in rural China, eager to find a way to get to university, but that opportunity is destroyed by the Cultural Revolution and her best chance may be to get out of the country with the young man who wants to leave too.

Often, the different timeline structure doesn't work, but here, Khong keeps the book structured into three distinct sections, so there's no jumping around. She also gives each generation's story a different tone and style to reflect the time in which it is set. Khong writes so well, and is so deliberate in her choices, yet there's an effortlessness to her writing that made the entire novel a lot of fun to read. There's a lot of ground covered in this novel, but at its heart it's the story of family and of forgiveness and learning to understand each other across the generations. I loved this book. ( )
1 vote RidgewayGirl | Apr 28, 2024 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rachel Khongprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wong, EuniceNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Yang, EricNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zhu, LouisaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Like you, I was raised in the institution of dreaming.

—CAMERON AWKWARD-RICH
Dedication
For my family
First words
She isn't afraid, but he is.
Quotations
What was I doing with my life? I needed meaning, as she'd said, but how would I find it? Meaning was a slippery fish I was trying to catch with one hand.
Both of us had been lonely; we weren't anymore. If our bodies disappeared—if they vanished—and what remained was only our souls, I was certain they would share a resemblance. Both of us had been formed like stones in a river, washed over by our parents' expectations—the forceful currents of them. No wonder we were drawn to each other.
My mother never described herself as an outsider, she just was one—that was obvious to me. From the perimeter, she could see what was invisible to everyone in the middle.
I thought of myself as a lotus plant—growing from the dirtiest mud but, in the sun, blossoming, untouched by the mud it originated from. I wasn't ashamed of my upbringing, but I wanted to move forward—away from the past. It was easy, for me, to never look back.
Every powerful man, possessing everything already, wanted the thing he couldn't have: time.
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"An exhilarating novel of American identity that spans three generations in one family, and asks: What makes us who we are? And how inevitable are our futures?"--

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