Charles Wang was living the American dream. Seemingly out of nothing he built a cosmetics empire and was living a lush life with his three children in a beautiful mansion. The kind of life where you get Louis Vuitton pouches as small “just because” gifts. But we don’t see this life. Jade Chang’s novel opens just as Charles has lost it all. And I do mean all. In a foolish business decision he tied his home up with his banking and after the financial crisis of 2008 he has lost that along with all his cars and factories.
With nothing to his name, he packs up the family and embarks on a cross country trek from LA to the Catskills of New York to live with his eldest daughter. With a barely-there idea of reclaiming family land in China once lost to the Communists, Charles is adorably full of hope. The whole family, in fact, is adorable and I appreciate that they weren’t depicted as entirely spoiled and selfish. There’s no need for a story arc depicting the Wangs becoming grounded people – it’s enough to watch them deepen in their already strong love for each other.
4 out of 5 stars.